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What's Next For Josephine County Marijuana Farmers?

Josephine County Commissioners are considering next steps after an ordinance that would have placed more restrictions on marijuana farmers was reversed by the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

Posted: Mar 26, 2018 6:33 PM

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. -- Josephine County Commissioners are considering next steps after an ordinance that would have placed more restrictions on marijuana farmers was reversed by the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

LUBA revoked the ordinance in March after F.A.R.M.S., Inc. an organization made up of local marijuana farmers, also known as 'Farming and Agricultural Rights Management Society' filed an appeal. LUBA ruled in their favor because the county did not send out notices to all 16,000 rural residential land owners stating that property regulations will be changing.

According to Commissioner Dan DeYoung the counties lawyers are taking a look at the ordinance as it currently written before deciding what they want to do next.

Right now the Josephine County Board of Commissioners are considering three options: leave the ordinance as is and send letters to all rural residential land owners, adopt Jackson counties marijuana ordinance, or file a federal appeal seeking a declaratory judgement on the current ordinance.

When asked about which direction they are headed, DeYoung responded by saying, "Basically, essentially, it’s business as usual until we get this straightened out. There’s a whole bunch of people out there that are not happy with that but do they want us to quit trying to get something that we can all deal with? No. They don’t want us to quit trying. They want us to keep on trying until we get the good growers on board with what the ordinance should be and go from there."

The ordinance has gotten a lot of attention from local marijuana farmers who have started an organization called F.A.R.M.S., Inc., also known as 'Farming and Agricultural Rights Management Society.' 

F.A.R.M.S., Inc. President, Amanda Metzler, says that if the county decides to continue with the ordinance as it is written then they will fight back, "There are stipulations in there that are not reasonable regulations, which is what the county is charged with passing, via the state. So, there would be some issues within the current ordinance that we would have a problem with."

Metzler says that the F.A.R.M.S., Inc. attorney, Ross Day, attempted to reach out to the county board of commissioners on multiple occasions and even offered to help write the ordinance, writing in an email, "I will offer again to help with the new ordinance. I have filed (and litigated) many non-conforming use applications in Jackson County and know where the pitfalls lay."

The county counsel, Wally Hicks, responded by saying, "We will contact you if we wish to enlist your assistance -- it's unnecessary to keep offering."

When asked about being willing to schedule a meeting with F.A.R.M.S., Inc. members, commissioner DeYoung said that he had never heard of that suggestion from farmers and was open to the idea.

Metzler was surprised at DeYoung's willingness to meet since Mr. Day had attempted to schedule multiple conversations before the ordinance was first passed, saying, "I am I’m kind of baffled by that is my response. We have emails going back-and-forth since September of last year asking to work with lawyers asking to work with the planning department, asking to work with the commissioners and I think it’s pretty indicative of what their position is that the last correspondence we had said we 'will contact you if we want any help'."

Metzler also explained that local farmers are still interested in meeting and reaching a solution, saying, "We’re still here we still want to be a part of the solution. We have some great ideas on how we could work together and we want to be part of it."

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