Washington AG: I-502 does not require local governments to accept rec marijuana businesses

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued an opinion today that local governments are not prohibited from regulating or banning recreational marijuana businesses. Ferguson issued the opinion at the request of Sharon Foster, chair of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The opinion states: “Under Washington law, there is a strong presumption against finding that state law preempts local ordinances. Although Initiative 502 establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors, and retailers in Washington State, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”

A statement by the AG's office points to a failure by I-502 drafters to word the initiative to require local governments to accept marijuana businesses, adding it would be up to the state Legislature whether to amend the law to do so.


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