Published on December 28th, 2011 | by Rhonda Winter1
Washington Marijuana Dispensary Fights Back against Police Harassment
The fight to legalize cannabis continues, and many states already have already approved medical marijuana for patients in need. Although, as we have seen this month in Lacey, Washington, just because something is legal does not stop misguided police officers from trying to shut you down.
Lacey Cross is a medicinal marijuana dispensary cooperative in western Washington that is fighting back against continued harassment from local law officials. This month they have filed an appeal in Thurston County Superior Court, seeking to overturn the city’s denial of its business license application.
The local Lacey police have stated that allowing Lacey Cross to operate with a business license would constitute a “public safety hazard, despite the fact that there is no justifiable evidence to substantiate these fatuous claims. Even though medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1998, the cannabis wars still continue.
Jeremy Pawloski at The Olympian newspaper offers his insight into the medical dispensary’s legal battle:
“The appeal also alleges that the city relied upon an ‘arbitrary and erroneous’ interpretation of both the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Washington medical cannabis laws in arriving at its decision to deny Lacey Cross a business license.
State law provides for ‘collective gardens for the purpose of producing, processing, transporting and delivering cannabis for medical use,’ under a number of conditions, including limits on how many patients may participate at a time and how much marijuana a collective garden may produce. Lacey Cross and other Thurston County medicinal marijuana establishments argue that they are protected under the collective gardens provisions of the state’s medicinal cannabis statute.
However, law enforcement officials say there is no provision under Washington law that legalizes the sale of marijuana to anyone, including medicinal marijuana patients. They also argue that under federal law, possessing or selling marijuana is illegal.
Lacey Cross is one of five so-called medicinal marijuana dispensaries that were shut down Nov. 15 during raids by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration…Comstock declined to comment on what, if any, actions police might undertake to close Lacey Cross or other medicinal marijuana establishments in Lacey.
Lacey Cross’ new owner, Casey Lee, 36, said Tuesday that his business was warned by police to close after the city upheld the denial of its business license on Dec. 1. He said the store stopped selling medical cannabis after the police warning, but remained open to offer advice and counseling to medicinal cannabis patients.
He confirmed that Lacey Cross had reopened as of Dec. 27, under the legal argument that his attorneys’ appeal placed a stay on the denial of his business license. ‘We’re trying to (do) everything right and follow all the rules,’ Lee said.”
Will Pot Soon Be Legal?
Soon, however, this ongoing struggle against local police harassment may become moot. Washington will vote on legalizing marijuana for everyone in the state over 21 on next year’s November ballot.