Lewis County Follows Federal Law in Recreational Pot Policy

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If U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says you can grow and sell marijuana, Lewis County says you can too.

Anything short of a dispensation from Holder, and you’re out of luck, the Lewis County Commission said Monday during a hearing on recreational marijuana in unincorporated Lewis County.

The commission’s decision, which holds with federal rather than state law, all but prohibits marijuana for the foreseeable future. Holder has issued only a handful of exceptions.

Civil Deputy Prosecutor Glen Carter described the decision as stemming from the “desire not to issue a license the law prohibits.”

It is the same tack the county took last year with regard to medical marijuana.

The county’s system is not, however, an outright ban.

Should Holder give his support to the state’s recreational marijuana, Lewis County’s system will already be in place.

Applicants would obtain licenses from the state and federal governments and then apply with Lewis County Community Development for a special business license.

Since voters passed Initiative 502 last year, local jurisdictions have found themselves in a governmental tug of war.

On one side is state law, which permits highly regulated growth, production and sale of marijuana. On the other side is the federal government, which has said it does not, at this point, plan to prosecute local jurisdictions that are breaking the controlled substances act.

The federal government has said it may not, not that it will not, Carter emphasized.

Pursuant to state Liquor Control Board guidelines, Lewis County will receive seven retail outlets, four in unincorporated Lewis County and three in Centralia and Chehalis.

It is not yet clear whether the county’s four licenses — which were designated “for the rest of the county” — must be in unincorporated land or whether they may be transferred to smaller cities such as Winlock or Toledo.

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