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Would-be pot retailer enters plea

City won’t grant business license

Kerri Sandaine Lewiston Tribune

ASOTIN, Wash. – The latest round of an ongoing feud between a marijuana retailer and the city of Clarkston has shifted to misdemeanor territory.

Kelly Jackson, who owns Canna4Life, pleaded innocent to an alleged business license violation Tuesday in Asotin County District Court.

He is accused of selling pot – without the city’s permission – to an undercover police officer on the morning of May 29, the day the marijuana store opened. The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The business owner requested a different judge during his first court appearance Tuesday. His case has now been delayed for a week and will be heard by Court Commissioner Tina Kernan at 10 a.m. Tuesday, rather than Judge Ray D. Lutes.

Clarkston City Attorney Todd Richardson alleges Jackson did not have a business license to sell recreational marijuana when the doors opened at 721 Sixth St. The store closed 11 days later, because an injunction requested by the city was issued in Asotin County Superior Court.

According to a police report, an undercover officer from the Quad Cities Drug Task Force arrived at 11 a.m. on opening day and waited about 40 minutes to get inside. The Clarkston officer reportedly purchased two “grand opening” joints and a gram of Blue Berry marijuana for $30 cash.

Jackson was at the door checking identification and wearing ID, according to the document. Several clerks were behind the counter and the cases were full of marijuana.

“While talking to the clerk who helped me, he advised that they were not supposed to be open now, but this was their way of saying ‘ … the police,’ ” according to the undercover officer’s report. “He further advised that they couldn’t hire employees so everyone behind the counter was a volunteer.”

Jackson’s attorney, Rick Laws, said his client denies all of the accusations. Furthermore, alleged statements in the police report are not relevant to the business license issue, Laws said.

The marijuana purchases were photographed and placed into evidence at the Clarkston Police Department, according to court documents.

At the District Court proceeding, Laws made a formal request to see all of the evidence the city plans to use against his client.

Canna4Life has a license from the Washington State Liquor Control Board and the city of Clarkston’s OK to sell drug paraphernalia. Pot sales remain banned in the city limits, according to an ordinance adopted by the Clarkston City Council.

As a result, a temporary restraining order against the business was approved last week by Superior Court Judge Scott Gallina. The order will be reviewed at 9 a.m. Aug. 4, unless the ban is lifted by the council or overturned by state law prior to that court date.

Jackson said he is honoring the injunction but hopes to get the green light to open his store again.

“I am disappointed that this opportunity to raise tax revenue (for the city and state) has been delayed,” Jackson said.

He and his wife, Julie Jackson, have filed a lawsuit against the city and several councilors who voted for the ban. The suit has yet to be resolved and no court dates on that issue have been set.

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