Owners of Parkland pot shop defying ban in Pierce County; store opening Saturday

PARKLAND, Wash. -- Ted Wetherbee is tired of renting an empty space in Parkland, so, despite a ban on retail marijuana stores in Pierce County, he and his partner, Mike Henery, are opening their pot shop and art gallery on Saturday.

“We wanted everybody to be able to walk in here, and immediately feel comfortable in purchasing legal marijuana,” Henery said Friday in their shop, The Gallery.

Customers may feel comfortable. The county could be itching for a fight.

Pot stores are legal in the state -- but the stores are banned in Pierce County.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has said he believes cities and counties have the right to ban marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction. Several individual communities have a ban in place, including Kent and Fife. This will be the first time a business has attempted to defy a ban.

Wetherbee says he’s tired of seeing unregulated medical marijuana shops popping up around him, while his legal business languishes. He’s losing money, too, as he's been paying rent on his Parkland location for a while, with nothing to show for it.

“It’s been frustrating, and not only frustrating, but it’s been a huge expense,” said Wetherbee.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy issued a statement that said, “This just came to our attention a couple of days ago. The county executive will consult with the County Council and prosecuting attorney to determine our response.”

Wetherbee has taken his fight to court in the past, when the city of Fife refused to allow his pot shop. He lost that time. This time, he’s defying the ban and opening his doors.

“We’re licensed by the state. We have a right to do this. We’re a legal entity that wants to pay 25 percent tax, plus the sales tax to the state, and they won’t let us do it. We plan to open for business tomorrow and service the marijuana retail needs of everyone around here.”