State seeks to intervene in lawsuits over pot bans

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he has filed motions to intervene in lawsuits filed over marijuana business bans in the cities of Wenatchee and Fife, to ensure the state's interests are represented.

Lawsuits have been filed against both cities challenging their authority to block state-licensed recreational pot businesses. Ferguson said Thursday that to the extent any party is seeking to invalidate Washington's legal pot law, he wants to be there to defend it.

The attorney general's office issued a formal opinion in January concluding that the law does not prevent cities and counties from banning marijuana businesses.

Steve Smith, the city attorney in Wenatchee, said Thursday he welcomes the attorney general's involvement in the case, especially as Ferguson's opinion supports the city's analysis.

A similar lawsuit was filed challenging a ban in Centralia, but Centralia has since adopted zoning rules allowing marijuana businesses.