ACLU backs businesses in Fife pot lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington says it will back three state-licensed marijuana business owners — including a Tacoma retailer — who are joining the fight against a ban on pot operations in the city of Fife.

The plaintiffs intervening in the legal challenge say Fife’s ban on recreational marijuana operations is unconstitutional and pre-empted by state law, according to an ACLU news release. The intervening parties include Tacoma retailer Rainier on Pine, Pacific producer/processor Downtown Cannabis Company LLC, and Chelan County producer/processor Monkey Grass Farms LLC.

The Fife City Council approved an ordinance July 8 that prohibits “all business uses involving marijuana.” In response to a lawsuit filed against the city by two prospective pot retailers, the city says it will argue that federal prohibition trumps voter-approved Initiative 502.

In response to Fife’s legal defense filed earlier this week, the state Attorney General’s Office publicly denounced the federal pre-emption claim and vowed to “vigorously” defend against it.

The ACLU entered the fray Thursday. Alison Holcomb, criminal justice director for the regional ACLU and author of I-502, said the goal is to protect the new state law.

“We are intervening in this case to ensure that Washington’s marijuana law goes forward as the voters intended when they adopted it,” Holcomb said in the statement.

“State and federal laws do not have to be the same,” Holcomb said in the statement. “I-502 is designed to protect the health and welfare of our state’s residents and maintains Washington’s traditional role as partner with the federal government. Our state’s law is consistent with federal enforcement priorities.”

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