Hazel Dell pot shop loses Appeals Court case

Court rules County moratorium does not violate state constitution

CLARK COUNTY – The Washington State court of appeals has unanimously sided with Clark County, and against the owner of a pot shop in Hazel Dell. John Larson, owner of Emerald Enterprises, which runs Sticky’s Pot Shop on Highway 99, has argued the county’s marijuana ban runs afoul of the state constitution, because it prohibits something allowed by state law.

The Appeals Court disagreed, ruling that Initiative 502, approved by voters in 2012, does make recreational marijuana legal, but it did not require local municipalities to allow them. The law, and amendments later approved by the legislature, allows local governments to set a maximum number of licensed marijuana retailers, but not a minimum number.

Unincorporated Clark County’s only marijuana shop loses Appeals Court case, will continue to operate in violation of moratorium.
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The court also ruled that state law gives local jurisdictions broad power when it comes to enforcing their own laws, assuming those laws don’t directly conflict with state law. Their decision states that, while recreational marijuana sales are legal under state law, they are not mandatory.

A 2014 opinion by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, while not binding, stated that local bans were allowed under the law. Currently six counties and 30 cities in Washington State have banned marijuana-related businesses. The Legislature did pass an amendment stating that any municipality banning marijuana would forfeit any tax revenue generated.

Sticky’s has been operating in violation of the county ban since Clark County Superior Court judge Daniel Stahnke allowed Larson to post a $205,000 bond to cover existing county fines, and those they would accrue during their legal challenge. It’s expected the business will be able to continue operating while the Appeals Court ruling is brought to the state Supreme Court.

Clark County Council recently debated the issue of whether to hold hearings about possibly ending the marijuana moratorium, but decided to hold off after hearing from a number of groups opposed to the idea. You can read more about that here:

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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