SEATTLE, WA - Cities and counties in Washington state now know they can legally ban or put moratoriums on marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions.
Local governments have long awaited this announcement from the state, since Washington state's recreational marijuana law didn't specify the power they had in implementing bans or moratoriums.
However, Thursday morning, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson gave his interpretation of the law, saying cities and counties have the right to block licensed marijuana businesses from operating, whether they're growing operations, processing facilities or retail shops.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board had been concerned that local bans could restrict access to legal marijuana and make it difficult to move people away from the black market.
Some jurisdictions have effective bans on pot businesses, because their local ordinances require businesses to follow state, federal and local law. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The City of Yakima is considering a ban on pot businesses.
Nearly three dozen of the state's biggest cities have adopted moratoriums on marijuana businesses, including Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland, Walla Walla, and Yakima.