WASHINGTON: Washington state’s legal cannabis landscape is now dotted with cities that have banned or placed moratoriums, via zoning laws, on marijuana businesses that were authorized under a statewide referendum approved by voters in November 2012.
Some 40 percent of Washington’s 281 cities have now gone that route, preventing legal marijuana businesses from operating in their communities. A number of the cities are opposed to legal cannabis businesses on principle, some because cannabis is still deemed illegal under federal law. But just as many or more are taking the stance as a means of wresting marijuana tax revenue from the state — which currently is the sole beneficiary of those taxes. The cities argue they need that new tax revenue in order to cover the cost of regulating marijuana businesses in their communities — with bulk of the sought-after tax proceeds being eyed for law enforcement purposes.
The Association of Washington Cities, AWC, is a nonprofit special-interest group with an active lobbying arm that represents all cities in the state. It has been one of the key organizations leading the charge in pressuring legislators and regulators to open up the cannabis tax spigot for the cities.
The agency charged with establishing the rules and issuing the licenses for legal marijuana business is the Washington State Liquor Control Board, overseen by a three-member commission. It has been a primary target of AWC’s lobbying effort, recent public records released to Narco News reveal.