I don’t know enough about the specifics of the state constitution or state law to know if the AG’s office is right that localities can ban marijuana shops. The law is the law and if the office has come to that conclusion, then, they should say as much.
Nonetheless, I’m glad to see that this isn’t the last word, and that the ACLU is going to fight it. It won’t do as much to stem the illicit trade if you have to drive another county or two to purchase marijuana. Especially with the current setup where it’s legal to own marijuana but there’s nowhere to legally purchase it.*
Still, the politics is perplexing. I suspect given this, and given their history the Pierce County Council will try to ban marijuana shops once again. In a municipality that supported legalization and a market by 54%. The exec vetoed it last time, but her argument was that state law ought to be the driving force. Not that hey, we don’t want to encourage drug dealing on the street corners, so we should have a better place to go. Not, hey, we can best make sensible regulations if it’s legal. Not that localities should tax marijuana when budgets are still tight.
Now, in fairness, that’s a good deal of speculation on my part. I don’t know if the County Council will try again, and I don’t know if Executive McCarthy would veto it. But the argument she relied most heavily on is now gone, or at least weakened.
And I can’t help wondering if part of the reason is a fear by some politicians, especially outside of urban areas, of being labeled one of those damn hippies if they support this reasonable policy. I mean how can you possibly support a legalization policy if you aren’t lighting up yourself? How can you support a live and let live policy on these sorts of issues? Of course, it’s silly; It seems like people unwilling to support marriage equality for fear that people might think they were gay in the not too distant past. Still, I think the fear of the attack ads they’ve written in their minds is worse than the reality they would face, at least in municipalities that supported I-502.
I’m also worried about what this will do to medical marijuana patients if the law gets interpreted that way by the courts. It looks like the legislature is moving toward pushing medical users into the recreational market (Daily O link). If the state outlaws collective gardens, that could be problematic anyway. But if they outlaw collective gardens and they aren’t replaced by shops in some cities and counties, that would seem to be more problematic.
* I realize that’s the setup everywhere in Washington right now. But it’s supposed to change.