Extra Fizz: ACLU Joins Fife Pot Battle, Parks District Wins
ACLU intervenes to preserve I-502.
1. The ACLU of Washington joined the lawsuit against the city of Fife today. Representing three pot retailers in other cities (who see Fife's ordinance and the pending Pierce County court case against pot retail sales as a threat to their own legal businesses in Pacific, Chelan County, and Tacoma), the ACLU challenged Fife's legal position on two points.
First, the ACLU says Fife's contention that federal law trumps I-502 is wrong. (Washington voters passed I-502, which legalized small sales and recreational use of pot, 55.7 to 44.3 in 2012.)
In a statement today, ACLU attorney (and former I-502 campaign director) Alison Holcomb said:
“State and federal laws do not have to be the same. I-502 is designed to protect the health and welfare of our state’s residents and maintains Washington’s traditional role as partner with the federal government. Our state’s law is consistent with federal enforcement priorities. It accounts for revenues, prohibits marijuana sales to children, and reduces the risk of violence by taking marijuana out of the hands of criminal enterprises.”
Second, the ACLU says Fife can't prevent a local retailer from being involved in a legal business. A statement from the ACLU says "cities, counties, and other municipalities may not prevent marijuana enterprises that are legal under state law from operating within their jurisdictions. They may enact local zoning ordinances and health and safety regulations that do not conflict with state law, but they may not forbid activity that state law permits."
Holcomb tells PubliCola Fife can't hide behind zoning laws to ban pot sales. "It's one thing to protect schools, but that's very different from banning it outright so it can't happen."
This second argument contradicts progressive Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office is also intervening in the case. The AG's office, which is committed to preserving 502, is alarmed by Fife's federal preemption argument, fearing it my "eviscerate" the voter-approved law. But they second Fife's right to opt on the grounds that 502 doesn't require pot sales.
Holcomb says the "logical conclusion" of Fife's supposed right to opt out would "render the law null and void." Saying Fife can ban pot sales, she concludes, "means you're saying every city or county could."
2. With 53.2 percent of the total vote and a lead of 8.377 votes, supporters of the Metropolitan Parks District, a taxing district that will be governed by the City Council and the mayor, declared victory this afternoon. The district will levy an ongoing property tax of 33 cents per thousand dollars of property valuation for the first six years of its existence, and will be authorized to tax as much as 75 cents per thousand dollars.
In a statement, Mayor Ed Murray said, "We will begin work immediately to address our existing maintenance backlog"—which amounts to around $267 million—"working diligently to manage the needs of our park system as Seattle continues to grow as a city.”
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