Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in the state of Washington for over a year. But in the fall-out of the November 2012 ballot passage, some cities and counties have scrambled to pass their own marijuana restrictions, hoping to keep pot from their locales. A new bill could stop those local measures, effectively banning bans on marijuana.
The bill understandably has critics, namely in those communities who passed local ordinances to ban retail marijuana establishments.
“I think it’s a wrong way to go,” said Piece County Council Chairman Dan Roach. “Local control is very important.”
Pierce County is just one of a handful of locales that have passed bans or moratoriums, according to King 5 News.
On the other hand, counties and cities shouldn’t be able to decide for themselves what state laws they want to follow, particularly when the voters passed the laws in the first place. Legal businesses have a right to operate, assuming they follow all of the rules and regulations. Local cities and towns to have a right to restrict certain types of businesses with specific zoning restrictions, but they cannot enact a blanket prohibition on any type of legal establishment to operate under any circumstances.
“I’ve likened it to gay marriage,” said Representative Cary Condotta (R-Wenatchee) who sponsored the bill to ban bans. “They didn’t vote for it in Tri-Cities, but do they ban it? No. That’s not the way it works.”
The bill has made it out of committee and will go before lawmakers in coming months.
In the meantime, the rest of the state continues to navigate a world with legalized pot. A recent question and answer column in the Seattle Post Intelligencer cleared up what local hotels think of guests smoking in their rooms.
They found that while hotel owners don’t care if guests possess pot, they do care if they smoke it. Some hotels have guests sign agreements that cannabis will not be used in the rooms. Others don’t take action until they’ve received a complaint from other guests. The Grand Hyatt Seattle will allow marijuana use for medical patients with a doctor’s note, but charge guests a $250 fee if there is any “photo evidence of marijuana possession following a smell complaint.”
Obviously, the passage of our state’s liberal marijuana law has not led to a free-for-all, or a sort of reefer madness with potheads running loose everywhere. Businesses and cities alike have done whatever they can to control when and where pot is allowed.
Five years ago, the thought of lawmakers “banning marijuana bans” would have seemed laughable and far too futuristic. But here we are, navigating a new world. Still, casual and medicinal marijuana users must take care to not find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Not everyone is happy with the new laws, including some law enforcement. But criminal marijuana charges are still possible in the state if you run afoul of the laws as written.