Marijuana Growers Prevail Over Josephine County Appeal

The Oregon Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by the County, who had been foiled in their attempt to restrict commercial pot production.

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 3:16 PM
Updated: Jun 14, 2018 5:29 PM

By ANDREW SELSKY , Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by county commissioners in a prime marijuana-growing part of the state who had been foiled in their attempt to restrict commercial pot production.

The appeals court's dismissal without comment Wednesday of the Josephine County commissioners' case marks the latest step in the struggle between the county's political leaders to tamp down the proliferating marijuana business, and growers trying to protect their businesses and investments.

The county commission in December passed an ordinance banning commercial pot farming on smaller rural residential lots and drastically reducing larger grow sites.

Ross Day, attorney for the marijuana farmers, said the county's appeal to the court was frivolous.

"Hopefully the county gets the message that it acted illegally when it adopted the ordinance," Day said after the Oregon Court of Appeals made its ruling.

The commissioners were appealing a ruling by the state Land Use Board of Appeals, or LUBA, that put their restrictions on marijuana production on hold. LUBA said the county had failed to properly notify land owners.

Wally Hicks, attorney for the county, said the ruling is both a setback for the county's effort to protect property owners.

"Some participants in the marijuana industry have been abundantly clear that they will challenge any meaningful regulation the county introduces. Thus, regardless of which way the Court of Appeals ruled, the matter has always been destined for a return trip to LUBA," Hicks said in an email.

Members of the commission in the southern Oregon county have called pot farms a nuisance. Voters in the state legalized marijuana with a 2014 ballot measure, prompting a "green rush" as pot entrepreneurs set up shop in the fertile, rainy mountainous area.

Pete Gendron, a marijuana grower in Josephine County and president of the Oregon SunGrowers' Guild advocacy group, has pointed out that growers have invested large sums to start operations and said they were shocked when the county tried to restrict them.

One grower had a letter from the county dating back a year or more stating that cannabis cultivation was farm use and was allowed, and he invested a half-million dollars because of those assurances, Gendron said.

In a sign of how bitter the dispute has become, the county commission filed a lawsuit in federal court, contending that the state cannot dictate marijuana regulations over county restrictions because weed remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The pending lawsuit calls on the federal court in Medford to declare that two ballot measures in 1998 and 2014 that legalized medical and recreational marijuana, respectively, are pre-empted by federal law.

Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General Carla Scott has argued the lawsuit should be dismissed.

"A political subdivision of a state such as Josephine County lacks standing to challenge a state law in federal court on supremacy grounds," Scott recently wrote in a filing in the case, the Daily Courier newspaper of Grants Pass reported.


CLICK HERE for background on the ongoing legal struggle between Josephine County and marijuana growers.


Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309841

Reported Deaths: 3569
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah50840642
Washington34683272
Marion32181388
Clackamas26315270
Lane23632246
Jackson20753255
Deschutes16401100
Umatilla12552125
Douglas10599185
Linn1030285
Josephine8536163
Yamhill737299
Klamath637891
Polk617770
Malheur475867
Benton454027
Coos406469
Columbia320237
Jefferson310446
Lincoln272829
Union266036
Wasco236739
Crook212137
Clatsop210225
Tillamook179623
Baker171920
Morrow166621
Curry166317
Hood River161635
Harney77115
Grant7538
Lake6608
Wallowa50111
Gilliam1364
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4636268

Reported Deaths: 67966
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144412725849
Riverside3575584802
San Diego3492274006
San Bernardino3468955501
Orange3135295354
Sacramento1498662070
Santa Clara1403871841
Fresno1356471889
Kern1343971515
Alameda1160681320
Ventura976231120
San Joaquin971621615
Contra Costa95595924
Stanislaus800341229
Tulare72812896
San Mateo52172607
San Francisco51808605
Monterey49445565
Solano44061312
Santa Barbara43065500
Sonoma39376376
Merced39279535
Placer36390364
Imperial34235755
Kings30038285
San Luis Obispo28273313
Madera21672258
Butte21205230
Shasta20647276
Santa Cruz20134211
Yolo19118239
Marin17080242
El Dorado15964127
Sutter13055153
Napa1224695
Yuba923461
Nevada845685
Humboldt826284
Tehama821184
San Benito708567
Mendocino681971
Lassen636827
Tuolumne612593
Lake601087
Amador489759
Glenn396430
Siskiyou388841
Calaveras339366
Del Norte334234
Colusa290718
Inyo166239
Mono14935
Plumas12336
Mariposa96712
Trinity71910
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1180
Alpine1000
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 52°
Brookings
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 68°
Crater Lake
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 52°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 52°
Klamath Falls
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 51°
Dry and mild Monday with good air quality
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events