A Seattle church located in uber-hip Capitol Hill (Mt. Calvary Christian Center) is protesting against Uncle Ike’s, a state licensed cannabis retailer that has opened up shop next door. The church’s lead pastor claims that a cannabis retailer located within 1,000 feet of his church is “an indictment of where our society has come.” This pastor also believes that Uncle Ike’s very existence will inevitably put cannabis into the hands of his congregation’s youth.

Legally, the church has neither standing nor any legal basis to challenge Uncle Ike’s. Just as the church would have no basis for challenging the existence or the location of the liquor store that’s right across the street from and well within 1,000 feet of the church; this liquor store has been there for years — without any protest — despite alcohol’s obvious harms.

Washington State law prohibits cannabis businesses form locating within 1,000 feet of the various types of places listed in WAC 314-55-050(10). That list does not include religious institutions. Mt Calvary’s lead pastor is calling for the Washington State legislature to add churches to its 1,000 foot list or for the City of Seattle to implement its own similar prohibition.

That would be a mistake. And it could set a dangerous precedent in other states as those states undertake marijuana legalization. Why?

As a result of extensive footage and setback requirements in both state and local legislation, the number of eligible locations for a cannabis business in any city anywhere is already severely limited. It is not at all unusual for our cannabis lawyers to spend weeks working with our clients vetting locations to determine whether or not they’ll work. We have confronted this problem in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, and Oregon, in addition to Washington. If churches are added to Washington’s “1,000-foot-list,” cannabis businesses would almost never be permitted to open based on available space. If legalized cannabis is to have any chance of defeating black and gray market cannabis, we need more cannabis businesses, not less.

Of even greater importance is the need to maintain separation of church and state. Why should a religious institution be treated differently from a political or social institution or a private residence? Why would favoring a religious institution not constitute a violation of our Constitution’s First Amendment requirement to separate church and state?

In addition, the voters of Washington chose not to require cannabis businesses to keep their distance from churches and the NIMBY dissatisfaction of one church is no reason to contradict the will of the people.

Marijuana is being legalized and regulated and one of the reasons for doing that is to reduce its usage by children, and so far that appears to be working. If we start distrusting the efficacy of regulation and initiate rules that will essentially shut down legal marijuana, we likely will be increasing youth access to marijuana where its prohibition actually makes it easier to obtain.

Though we respect the right to protest, we believe that the best hope for a responsible cannabis program in Washington (and elsewhere) lies with the desires of dispensaries like Uncle Ike’s to operate a law-abiding, community conscious business for adults and with state regulations that make that both possible and necessary.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Uncle Ike’s is a client of our law firm.

  • Ed Martiszus

    So Mr. Preacher lets just take a cursory look at the lethality of cannabis v. religion. Never 1 single overdose and death from MJ. Sorry,the same cannot be said for religion. My experience with religion is priests telling me, in confession, masturbation is bad when I was a teenager, but they also wanted to know all the facts about it, physicals assaults by priests in high school for smoking weed@ lunch and then falling asleep in boring religion class. Priests coming to my house and giving my mom static for letting my Catholic sister marry a Jew. I worked as a RN for a bunch of years at Good Samaritan hospital in NW Portland. What I saw turned me into the nuclear war resisting nurse. After I had been an ER nurse, trauma and step down surgical unit for moderately burned patients at Emanuel hospital I went to Good Sam where every morning I passed out Synthyroid like candy. I think that is because of the ‘Green Runs” the 350,000 curies of I-131 released by the Hanford facility in 1947. One I used my environmental studies education and my nursing education, I put 1+1 together and it changed my life. I came to the realization that basically the US government was waging a secret nuclear war against the American people through all it’s facilities in the Nuclear weapons complex. Committing Nuremburg Crimes against American citizens and Crimes of Genocide against the Native Nations in the Columbia River Valley. Paying the US government taxes would make me a accessory, accomplice and complicit under USSC decisions, Article 6 Sect2 of US Constitution, Genocide Treaty of 1947, and Nuremburg Tribunals. I refused to pay and guess who was the co-conspirator with the US IRS to engage in Wage Theft, because I refused to be intimidated by the IRS and Good Samaritan Corporados’? The co-conspirator was the Episcopal diocese of Oregon, and their responsible corporate officer? Robert Ladehoff the Episcopal bishop of the Western Oregon Episcopal diocese. This guy tries to weasel out of it but I have all the letters to him demanding to stop his crimes against my family and return the $$$ stolen to fund US government nuclear war crimes. Mr. Preacher it’s the NW we smoke and we grow and nobody can stop us, especially not you.

  • Cannabis is the Tree of Life ~ in Christian terms.

  • SeattleGreen

    This article is incorrect in stating that the church does not have legal standing. Washington State law states a marijuana business can not set up within 1,000 ft. of a recreation center, school or child care center. The intent and spirit of the law I believe is to keep marijuana traffic from minors.
    The church’s Teen Center – located across the street in a separate building the church operates is well within the 1,000 ft distance required by law.
    A business owner would have to be blind or shrouded in fog not to notice the teen center which has been there for years.

    Its also not fair to make this an issue of religion vs. pot considering many churches council against drug use and most have youth groups that congregate at churches. In fact, I don’t know of a church that doesn’t council against drugs, have a youth group, in house child care center or is exclusively adult.

    I don’t attend church but lets not demonize religion and community efforts.

  • Robert C

    You know its sad and very concerning to me to see cannabis as a dirty sinful drug (substance) with no medical value, and brainwashing youth to stay away from cannabis and demonizing people of the faith that use cannabis for whatever their personal reason may be. So much brainwashing, lies and conspiracy against this plant to keep people from getting educated what society knew thousands of years ago. What I didn’t understand that i understand now, is how these churches, politicians, lobbyist, bureaucrats and the powers that be, could ever get away with this hidden agenda coming into view these days against cannabis.

    Just like all corruption the best way to preserve evil is to deny it even exist. The pharmaceutical companies all know this. Problem, Reaction, Solution. Create the problem, stir the reaction, offer the solution. Get people doped up on meds ( pharmaceuticals); zombify them, create more medical health issues then what the patient was taken the medications for in the first place, and last control the population. What a great way to scheme the public. It’s called the money wheel via The Luiciferian Agenda. Send them to the doctor (money out of thin air), ask you’re doctor if it’s right for you, Big Pharma makes their cut; treat the symptoms not the disease. Do more harm then good, and repeat the process all over again. Soon the patients die from mixing toxifying medications built up into the body and now you control the population; patient dies. The money wheel goes round and round, and the ‘shadow’ hides behind the curtain once again.

    First of all, to those that like to compare cannabis and alcohol, are two different substances with both two very different reactions. Alcohol if abused, promotes death and cannabis promotes life. Cannabis, which is also Hemp; just different name for the same plant, was a major commodity that had a huge positive impact on our country’s growing development back in the 17th century. Our Constitution, which is being torn a part; metaphorically, was written on hemp paper! (a.k.a. cannabis, marijuana).

    By the 18th century cannabis (marijuana) was widely accepted from doctors as a medicine and was used to treat a number of serious illnesses.

    The 19th Century was the great “experiment” against cannabis.The word “marijuana” is an emotional, pejorative term that has played a key role in creating the negative stigma in our society. A lot of knowledge of cannabis was pulled from society and hidden, due to greed and lust for power and control over the mass, because of all the beneficial possibilities cannabis has to offer (Medical, Industrial, and Spiritual.)

    During the 1930’s, the Hearst and DuPont families, in conjunction with corrupt government officials, condoned and popularized movies, books pamphlets, and and newspaper articles warning about the evils of smoking cannabis. This tacit conspiracy worked beautifully. By1930, many states had already criminalized cannabis(marijuana) use and labeled it a “narcotic”! America had adopted the lunacy of “Reefer Madness” as pure truth.

    Between 1930 and 1937, Anslinger, in conjunction with the Hearst/DuPont Empires, had convinced several more states to outlaw cannabis possession.The DuPont’s held many lucrative patents on chemicals used in manufacturing plastics, paper, and paints that could become valueless if cannabis products and cannabis oil derivatives became widelyavailable. But how could they prevent cannabis from making their billion dollar patents worthless? Easy, outlaw cannabis and importation.

    It wasn’t until 1942 that cannabis was pulled from the US Pharmacopeia.Nothing new under the sun, just rediscovered. Now a lot of this knowledge is coming back into light in this day and age. (Cannabis has been used for thousands of years even in the biblical time period.) So for those of you who make claims like, ‘potheads’ or marijuana users with a derogatory intent, do some research and become informed. Unless you have some other hidden agenda, that’s not in the peoples best interest in the ‘whole’.

    I am a man of the faith. However I don’t serve a religion, nor do i seek approval from a paster or a church. I have nothing against church directly, only the doctrine that is being taught. I have a very deep connection and understanding with the First Source and The Center of “all things”. (a.k.a as God) and His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. I research and make up my own mind. Some may call me a spiritual person, some may call me ignorant. I like to think of myself as a consciousness living an experience. Life that is everlasting, and constantly evolving. (The Great Adventure.)

    I do use cannabis for medical reasons, recreational reasons, and spiritual reasons. Like anything else, everything can be abused. So use common sense! I believe in what people do in their own homes is their business, so long has it’s not harming or forced on others period.

    Robert C