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Battle brewing between Seattle and pot shop owner

SEATTLE -- The owner of a West Seattle medical marijuana shop says he got a big surprise Tuesday morning when city officials showed up for a surprise inspection.

"(They said) 'if you don't let us tour your facility we're just going to revoke your business license and there's nothing you can do about it," said A.J. Cornwall, who runs the Better Day Gardens co-operative.

Unsure of his options, Cornwall called his attorney for advice.

"Basically, I told them we weren't going to be agreeing to any search like that and that they'd have to come back with a warrant if they wanted to do a search, and that's what A.J. told them and they left," said attorney Douglas Hiatt.

On Monday, Hiatt filed a complaint against the City of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray accusing the city of "unconstitutionally assessing taxes and regulating marijuana."

"The fact of the matter is the city doesn't have those rights, and that's what this lawsuit is all about," Hiatt said. "City of Seattle, you've got to stop. You can't license marijuana, you can't regulate it, you can't tax it, and you can't go and shut these people down. If you want to do that, you have to do it in the criminal courts.

Seattle's deputy city attorney says they city received the lawsuit. He said the city believes its marijuana ordinances -- which regulate medical marijuana -- are constitutional and the city will defend them in court.

A representative from the city echoed those claims, saying the regulations were "passed unanimously by City Council to ensure a safe, legal marijuana market."

Hiatt doesn't agree, saying the city needs to "stop this idiotic governmental action."

Cornwall said he believes regulating medical marijuana is necessary, but taking it away from people who have experience distributing it is an unfair move.

"I would question why we're putting tax dollars into stopping medical marijuana when we pay our taxes," he said. "I'm a licensed business, I've been one since 2012 and we're still putting funds toward stopping medical marijuana."
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