By Steve Elliott
A federal judge has dismissed a Washington lawsuit challenging the state's authority to tax marijuana.
The case was dismissed last week by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman for lack of jurisdication, reports the Associated Press.
Martin Nickerson, who operates the Northern Cross Collective Gardens medical marijuana dispensary in Bellingham, sued because at the same time he was being prosecuted for marijuana distribution, he was also targeted by the state Revenue Department for not collecting taxes on cannabis sales.
Nickerson had argued that he couldn't pay the tax without incriminating himself, violating his Fifth Amendment rights. His suit named Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and state tax chief Carol Nelson, reports CBS Seattle.
His complaint argued that the state could not "grant authority to local and county government to authorize licensing and collect taxes on an activity that is a crime" under federal law.
Nickerson's medical marijuana dispensary, Northern Cross Collective, opened in April 2011. He argued that he should be protected from tax liens and other legal actions as he defends himself from federal criminal charges stemming from raids on his property and home in March 2012.
By Steve Elliott
A new lawsuit has been filed against the City of Bellingham, Washington by the Seattle-based medical marijuana advocacy group Cannabis Action Coalition, setting the stage for another battle over the legality of medicinal cannabis dispensaries.
The lawsuit, filed on July 15, challenges the Bellingham City council's unanimous July 1 vote to impose interim zoning restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries by means of an "emergency" ordinance, reports John Stark at The Bellingham Herald.
One of those signing the lawsuit, filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, is Martin Nickerson, operator of the Northern Cross Collective downtown. Nickerson and two of his employees were arrested in March 2012, and are facing a November 12, 2013 criminal trial on several felony counts for alleged possession and sale of marijuana.
Nickerson and his lawyers have filed two previous lawsuits challenging the city's actions.
Five days after police raided Northern Cross in 2012, attorneys representing Northern Cross sought an injunction to block the city taking further action. Nickerson and his employees had gone to great lengths to keep the collective's activities within state law, according to the attorneys.