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Josephine County Sues State of Oregon Over Marijuana Regulations

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Medford, escalates a battle between the Josephine County Board of Commissioners and the state over regulating marijuana grows in rural residential areas.

Posted: Apr. 4, 2018 12:00 PM
Updated: Apr. 5, 2018 10:51 AM

Grants Pass, Ore. — Josephine County will be suing the state of Oregon after their decision to effectively overturn a county ordinance restricting where and how marijuana growers can operate. Wally Hicks, the county's legal counsel, confirmed the suit in a statement on Wednesday.

The county filed their lawsuit on Tuesday, April 3 at the U.S. District Court in Medford.  According to a statement from Hicks, Ordinance 2017-002 provided a "reasonable time, place and manner [for the] production of marijuana in rural residential zones."

The Land Use Board of Appeals ruled against the ordinance last month, siding with growers who complained that the ordinance violated state laws on marijuana growing.

Josephine County's lawsuit now cites the fact that Oregon's marijuana laws violate federal prohibitions against the plant—critizing the right of states to infringe on the rights of a county, when the county is (partially) conforming to federal law.

CLICK HERE for our previous story on the state decision to overturn a County ordinance against growers.

Ordinance 2017-002 sought to ban commercial pot farming on parcels of 5 acres or less.

According to Hicks' statement, Josephine County "is asking the court to clarify can lawfully restrict its options regarding land use regulation." The statement also said that the original case between the county and growers is still pending before the Oregon Court of Appeals.

"Operating in an atmosphere that lacks legal certitude involves a fiscal tail," Hicks said, when asked whether the lawsuit was a proper use of public funds. "The Board of Commissioners has determined that employing funds to obtain clarity around this important area of law is a prudent long-term approach."

CLICK HERE for our recent story on marijuana use and its potential risks and benefits for opioid addiction.

The full text of the lawsuit may be viewed below.

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