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Nov. 30, 2022

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U.S. judge dismisses Washington marijuana tax case

The Columbian
Published:

SEATTLE — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Washington state’s authority to tax marijuana.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman dismissed the case last week for lack of jurisdiction.

The operator of a medical marijuana dispensary in Bellingham, Martin Nickerson, sued because he was being simultaneously prosecuted for marijuana distribution and targeted by the state Revenue Department for not collecting taxes on marijuana sales. He argued he couldn’t pay the tax without incriminating himself.

But the judge agreed with the state’s lawyers, who argued that federal law required the case to be brought in state court.

Nickerson’s attorney, Douglas Hiatt, said he filed the lawsuit in federal court because he believes federal judges will ultimately have to decide whether states can regulate and tax marijuana while it remains federal illegal.

He plans to refile the case in Thurston County Superior Court.

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