KENT, Wash. --State voters have weighed in, and the Feds are talking a wait and see approach for now.
But City Leaders in Kent say they’ll say no to retail marijuana sales.
On Tuesday, the City’s Acting City Attorney said Kent won’t allow recreational marijuana sales.
“The council sets the policy, and we’re set to enforce it, and in this case, until we’re told otherwise, they’re not permitted in Kent,” said Pat Fitzpatrick. “There is nothing in the recreational law, or medical marijuana law, that specifically requires a city to allow these uses.”
The State Liquor Control Board recently allotted three licenses for Kent, when the new state marijuana law goes into effect later this year. But the Kent City Council voted 4-3 last year to ban collective gardens, and according to Fitzpatrick, the majority are in favor of keeping the ban in place. Fitzpatrick says that means the planning director has to follow the existing code as it pertains to licenses for retail establishments.
The case likely sets up a legal fight which will define the power of local ordinances and zoning regulations in the wake of the state law.
“It’s a tricky situation,” said Professor Bill Sherman, who teaches administrative law at Seattle University. “In Washington State, our courts are likely to hold that a state law conflicts with a city ordinance on the same subject than state law is likely to trump.” But he adds, with a potential conflict between state and federal law, “Judges are going to have to weigh in on this.”
The State Liquor Control Board’s ‘FAQ’s on I-502’ says the law does not preempt federal law, and that residents involved in marijuana production and retailing could still be subject to prosecution, with confiscation of assets as another option.
The Justice Department signaled last month that it will be monitoring Washington and Colorado’s implementation of a regulated marijuana distribution system, but would not take immediate action.
A group is suing Kent, objecting to current zoning. The case is awaiting a hearing by the State Court of Appeals.