Attorney: Kennewick City Council's Pot Ban Undermines Democracy

A potential local marijuana retailer is suing the city of Kennewick for banning pot buisiness within city limits.

The prospective owner of Americanna Weed is asking a judge to overturn the city council's decision.

Attorney Elizabeth Hallock is working pro-bono for Americanna Weed and owner Thaddeus Seaton, who was granted a license by the state to open a retail pot shop.

Hallock said she and her client feel that because voters made marijuana legal in the state, Tuesday's decision by the city council is underming democracy.

Hallock filed suit last week anticipating the council's unanimous decision.

In court documents Hallock stated: It is outside the jurisdiction of the Kennewick City Council to prohibit what the state permits.

Seaton is asking the city to accept and legitimately process permits and licenses to run the business without threats of prosecution.

Kennewick City Attorney Lisa Beaton said the council is well within its right because cities have the authority to adopt zoning districts and regulations.

Beaton said Initiative 502 did not preempt local jurisdictions from enacting bans, something the State Attorney General's Office agrees with.

Seaton said one of his goals is to eliminate the war on drugs and he says selling marijuana legally takes the drug off the "black market" and makes it safer for the consumer.

"Marijuana has always been around it's not a new drug that were bringing to Kennewick to experiment with. People can buy it and access it but they're not necessarily accessing a safe marijuana," said Thaddeus Seaton. "If we can provide something that's being tested by the health department why wouldn't they want that?"

Hallock said if the judge does not rule in Americanna's favor, they will fight this battle on another petition that she filed stating this ban is discriminatory towards minorities.

Her reasoning? She said "black market" deals take place on the street corners of low income, minority neighborhoods, something she hopes will changes with legal pot sales.

Both parties are expected to be in court on September 19th.  

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