WENATCHEE, Wash.—Wenatchee officials are preparing to respond to a lawsuit filed against the city Tuesday.
“I’m not one who likes to be in the limelight,” explained Shaun Preder.
Preder runs an office furniture business and just found out he won the I-502 license lottery to open a recreational marijuana shop.
“I actually had to call the Liquor Control Board back and say, ‘Does this mean that I’m in?’” he remembered.
A self-avowed entrepreneur, Preder planned to open his new business in his family’s favorite vacation spot: Wenatchee.
However, the city requires all businesses to have a city license. In order to obtain one, the business must be in compliance with federal and state law.
Last fall, city council voted 4-3 to uphold the policy despite the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t be the first one fighting but I am,” Preder said.
Depending on how Wenatchee responds to the lawsuit, it could have statewide or even national consequences.
“It could be litigated all the way up to the United States Supreme Court,” explained I-502 primary author Alison Holcomb.
City council members may change their mind about the ban. If not, Holcomb says, they may also argue I-502 doesn’t force cities to allow recreational marijuana even though the state does.
However, the fight would get messy if Wenatchee invokes federal law to protect itself, calling into question I-502’s validity statewide. It could also have legal ramifications for Colorado and other states considering the legalization of recreational pot.
Any long term legal battle could cost tax payers hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of dollars.
“Expert witnesses, documentary production, and a lot of work time and effort,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb hopes the litigation doesn’t get that far and stays in Chelan County where voters passed I-502 by 52%.
Preder has already paid nearly $11,000 on a rental facility for his new business, and he’s not sure what to expect.