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Citing State Law, Judge Upholds Fife's Pot Ban; No Comment On Federal Preemption

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
FILE - This July 1, 2014, photo shows marijuana plants in containers at Sea of Green Farms, a recreational pot grower in Seattle.

The city of Fife’s ban on recreational marijuana will stand, following a ruling by a Pierce County judge Friday.

Judge Ronald Culpepper said local jurisdictions have the right to opt out of marijuana legalization under state law. He added the pot shop owners who brought the suit did not meet the burden of proof necessary to overturn the ban in Fife.

The judge did not rule on a bigger issue of whether federal law trumps Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in Washington. The argument raised the stakes considerably, and a ruling could have put Washington’s entire system for regulating legal pot in peril.

The judge did, however, issue an informal opinion, saying he doesn’t see much of a conflict between I-502 and federal law. Therefore, he said, he doesn't believe I-502 can be preempted.

The plaintiffs said they plan to appeal.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.