aamericans for safe access
alabama medical marijuana coalition
Americans for Safe Access
Two counties in Washington State can prohibit cannabis businesses, just not for the reasons they have stated.
That’s the position of the state’s attorney general, who is looking to get involved in lawsuits tied to the bans.
The lawsuits challenge moves by Wentachee and Fife counties to bar recreational cannabis businesses on the basis that marijuana is illegal federally.
The state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, has asked the courts that his office be allowed to intervene in the lawsuits.
If permitted, Washington officials would reportedly back the general legality of bans, saying that I-502 – the state law allowing recreational sales of cannabis products to adults – allows municipalities to take such actions.
However, they would also argue that linking a ban to the federal prohibition of marijuana is not a permissible reason under state law.
Washington leaders worry that a court ruling in favor of federal laws over the state’s marijuana legislation would undermine I-502 and have many unintended consequences.
Local bans on cannabis businesses across Washington State are hitting some investors and entrepreneurs squarely in the pocketbook.
Nearly 50 municipalities in Washington have enacted outright bans or zoning ordinances that restrict cannabis businesses. In some cases, those bans have come with little warning – hurting those who had put down money hoping to ride the recreational cannabis wave.
Prospective retail shop owner Tedd Wetherbee told Reuters he lost approximately $30,000 when the town of Gig Harbor voted last month to enact a six-month emergency moratorium on pot businesses. Wetherbee said he had signed a five-year lease on a property and had begun renovating the interior.
“I’ve got $6,000 worth of tile arriving next week,” Wetherbee said. “It’s dead now.”
Privateer Holdings, a major investor in the cannabis industry, also saw one of its projects fall apart due to a local ban. The company’s portfolio firm Arbormain was looking at two sites to build a $20 million cannabis business park that would house cultivation centers and processing firms.
The company scrapped the idea after one of the towns, Kent, passed a moratorium and a local sheriff disparaged the idea to the news media. Arbormain will instead move into a 200,000-square-foot facility in another jurisdiction.
“It’s frustrating because of the uncertainty,” said Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings.
Washington’s Liquor Control Board finally provided a firm date for the program’s debut after several weeks of industry speculation.
The state’s recreational cannabis industry will officially begin July 8.
According to the announcement, regulators will distribute approximately 20 business licenses on July 7. The licensed stores will then have just one day to input all cannabis products into the state’s inventory management system before opening.
The state has not provided a list of the first businesses to receive licenses. A spokesman for the Liquor Control Board said the first licenses “will be spread around the state.”
Business owners are already predicting volatile prices for the first days of recreational sales. One retail owner, Michael Perkins, predicts prices to remain in the $20 to $25 per-gram range until growers reduce their wholesale prices.
Retailers said some growers are asking as much as $5,000 a pound for cannabis. Some cultivators believe retailers are to blame for the high prices. One cultivator recently said retailers are battling each other to secure inventory.
No matter who is to blame, inventories could run low during the first week of retail sales, as they did during Colorado’s first week of retail sales. One retail owner, Todd Shirley, predicts the stores that open on July 8 may have to temporarily shut their doors once inventory runs out.
“The first wave could have first-mover advantage,” he said. “But it’s going to be tough.”