Need assistance getting a cannabis business license? Schedule a Free Consultation
SEATTLE — Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Control Board is pausing enforcement on “lewd conduct” complaints, working with Seattle police to enforce them, and waiving any citations from a recent weekend enforcement action.
The memo announcing the changes was plastered on the side of ‘The Cuff’ bar on Seattle’s Capitol Hill on Friday night.
The bar was one of four LGBTQ-friendly locations that were visited by LCB agents on Friday and Saturday night in an enforcement action that was carried out on that Friday with Seattle police officers in assistance.
Kevin Kauer, who owns the “Massive Bar” on Capitol Hill, called the action a raid and said it alarmed owners of gay-friendly and owned spots, that they were worried they were being targeted because of the sexual orientation of customers. State Administrative Code bans lewd conduct in places that serve alcohol, and in at least one case, the agents were using that as a reason to question the operation.
It is unclear exactly what they found or planned to cite, but at least one owner suggested the offense was a shirtless man, which as defined by the WAC, could be used to find someone at fault.
That vagueness in the code was brought to the attention of the LCB, which this week held a meeting to address the issue. LCB Board Chair David Postman even acknowledged the issues with the code and apologized for how he described the situation in the past, saying the legislature needs to examine the issue.
That was cited as one of the reasons to put a pause on everything involved in last weekend’s situation.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) also apologized and released a statement that read:
SPD participated in support of other City departments and Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board officers in civil code inspections across ten locations, two of which were well-known LGBTQ+ nightclubs. While SPD’s role in these inspections was solely for purposes of maintaining peace, we – as an organization – failed to appreciate the negative symbolism that can attach to the presence of uniformed police officers in establishments dedicated to providing safe space for our LGBTQ+ community. Mindful of the fractured history between SPD and our LGBTQ+ community over the past century and the fragile trust we continue to work hard to rebuild, we as a department fell short of our commitment to remain self-aware of how our actions and presence may be perceived. For the harm we caused, we are deeply sorry. We recommit to building upon the many positive relationships we share with LGBTQ+ businesses and communities.”
Kauer said he was impressed by the quick change in policy, at least for now.
“I’m really impressed. I’m really happy that they’re doing this,” he said, “I’m very proud of them for taking swift action and also of our community for making that swift action happen.”