State Liquor Control Board Issues Marijuana Businesses Licenses - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State Liquor Control Board Issues Marijuana Businesses Licenses in Banned Areas

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YAKIMA COUNTY, WA. -- It's been almost two years since Initiative 502 passed and the legality of marijuana in some parts of the state is still up in the air. The State Liquor Control Board is still issuing marijuana licenses in areas that have bans in place, such as Yakima County. 

Yakima County has a ban on marijuana businesses and if this business or any others approved after this were to move forward, it could potentially challenge Yakima County's ban. And that's where things get very legally confusing. 

Marijuana businesses are currently banned in Yakima County but that hasn't stopped the liquor control board from issuing the first marijuana processing license to a property on North Merz Road in Sunnyside.

County Commissioner Mike Leita says they will be inspecting the property next week to be sure it isn't breaking the law.

"If it's deemed to be active then we'll go through the process for code enforcement," Mike Leita said. "And we will take code action." 

There's no indication that the property is breaking the law but it brings up an important question. What if a state licensed marijuana business decided to file a lawsuit challenging the ban? Leita thinks the county has a strong legal position. 

"Do we have the right to regulate zoning requirements?" Leita asked. "I would say absolutely we have that right."

It does get confusing though. In Yakima County, marijuana is banned. On a state level, its legal. Going even higher, federal laws says it's illegal. The result could be a very confusing legal situation, even for county officials. 

"It's a big haze right now," Leita said. "I don't believe that anyone has a clarity as to the different dynamics."

The liquor control board continues to issue marijuana licenses even in areas that do not allow business to open. And even years after the law has been put in place, questions remain. 

We spoke to a man outside the business in Sunnyside who indicated that this business does not plan to move forward and challenge Yakima County's ban. But that doesn't mean that it won't happen in the future.