Suit aims to protect small biz in emerging pot industry

Suit aims to protect small biz in emerging pot industry »Play Video
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
SEATTLE -- The state's first lawsuit to stop the new marijuana law will be filed on Friday.

Olympia paralegal Arthur West said he plans to file the suit to protect small businesses in the emerging pot industry.

The first recreational marijuana stores won't pop up in Washington for another, but West wants to put a stop to the law before big business takes over.

"It seems to be designed to monopolize the industry and allow a few licensed people to dominate and control it with large-scale production," said West.

Just like alcohol is sold in private stores now, the state Liquor Control Board will license independent businesses to sell marijuana starting next year. But West fears only large businesses will be able to afford the state's high taxes on pot. He thinks that will cut mom-and-pop shops out of the industry.

Entrepreneurs like Javen Shively are already cranking out plans for selling pot nationwide.

"We're going to be creating, ultimately, thousands of jobs with this business," Shively said. "It's going to be such a giant industry. We're going to eventually have stores all over the country."

KOMO News asked several big-box companies including cigarette maker Philip Morris, if they have any plans to get involved in Washington state's marijuana industry. All of the companies said they are crafting a response.

West says if the companies do decide to get involved, it could ruin everything.

"It's going to possibly even increase the price and lead to a situation where we have just as much black market activity," he said.