In a formal attorney general's opinion responding to questions from the Liquor Control Board,
I-502, as written and passed by voters in, didn’t. . .
To read the opinion, click on the document below.
…The board has allocated a maximum number of recreational marijuana stores for each county and most major cities. “Nothing in I-502 mandates a minimum number of licensees in any jurisdiction,” the attorney general’s opinion said. The initiative also is patterned after state liquor statutes, and local jurisdictions can ban the sale of liquor, it added.
The Legislature could add that pre-emption if it chooses,
The opinion is narrowly focused and only deals with recreational marijuana businesses. It does not address recreational marijuana use or any aspect of medical marijuana, which is a separate statute.
Only a few cities and counties have outright bans on marijuana businesses. A recent report by the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy says four of the state's 75 largest cities have bans and another 34 have some form of moratorium; the opinion supports their right to maintain them. It also could provide a de facto ban for any city or county that requires a business to comply with local, state and federal laws as a condition of holding a license or a registration, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Sharon Foster, chairwoman of the liquor board, said in a prepared statement the opinion “will be a disappointment to the majority of Washington voters who approved Initiative 502” but didn’t know how it would change the board’s efforts to get the law up and running. License applications are still being reviewed, with the first grower’s licenses expected to be awarded in late February or early March and stores opening in June or July.
Counties and cities, however, welcomed the opinion. “We were surprised it supported local control,” Brian Enslow, senior policy director for the Washington Association of Counties, said. “One of our paramount values has always been local control.”
Candice Bock, of the Association of Washington Cities, said while the opinion supports local control, the conflict between local jurisdictions that want to restrict marijuana businesses and those who want to start them will continue, possibly in the courts.
“I don’t think it’s the final word on this,” Bock said.