Josephine County Considers Revamped Marijuana Ordinance

A new ordinance on the docket for the County Commissioners contains many of the hallmarks of a previous, 2017 ordinance that was overturned after pot advocates fought back.

Posted: Oct 3, 2018 4:23 PM
Updated: Oct 3, 2018 4:33 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A new proposed ordinance before the Josephine County Board of Commissioners shares many similarities with a previous ordinance passed in 2017 that attempted to rein in marijuana growers  before it was overturned in court.

The new ordinance, No. 2018-005 says in abstract that it would "prohibit the production, processing, wholesaling, retailing, and research of marijuana in rural residential zones."

Much like the previous ordinance, the new one would not attempt to restrict the growth of the four personal plants per residence allowed under state law. However, unlike the previous ordinance, the new one does not appear to be confined to plots of land that are five acres or less.

Perhaps softening the blow for marijuana farmers in Josephine County, the proposed ordinance does include a clause that appears to grandfather-in existing legal grow operations:

"Lawfully established Marijuana Production Sites in rural residential zones that existed prior to the effective date of Ordinance 2018-005 and authorized by state law as of that effective date may be eligible for a Determination of a Nonconforming Use," the document states.

Yet even that provision includes new conditions — a person regulated by the State of Oregon must "have an interest" in the property where the site is located, business hours must be limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., those hours will be extended slightly during harvest time, and noise from any production activities must measure below 50 decibels during business hours.

Plants at any of these approved "Nonconforming" sites would also have to be at least 150 feet from a neighboring home. Properties that don't already follow this rule would need to make the necessary changes within two years of the ordinance's effective date.

The first reading of this ordinance is set for Wednesday, November 7.

What ultimately caused the previous ordinance aimed at marijuana sites to be overturned by the Land Use Board of Appeals earlier this year was an apparent failure to directly notify property owners (a requirement by law) that the ordinance was being considered. According to a statement from the Board of Commissioners sent to the media on Wednesday:

"The County will enclose notices to property owners with mailed tax statements in the coming weeks."

After Josephine County's previous ordinance was overturned, the County attempted to sue the state of Oregon in federal court. That lawsuit was dismissed by a federal magistrate judge in early September.

The ordinance draft may be downloaded or read in its entirety below.

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