A judge recently tossed a lawsuit filed against the state by a county in Oregon over the legalization of recreational marijuana. Early last week, and reported on Thursday by The Daily Courier, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane officially signed a formal order that dismissed the case by Josephine County, claiming a county, even a city, does not have sufficient standing to sue a state in federal court.
Filed back in April, the lawsuit contended that any federal law prohibiting marijuana supersedes Oregon’s decision to legalize cannabis for commercial sales. This is untrue, since states maintain the right to create their own laws. However, so do counties. Wally Hicks, legal counsel for Josephine County, said that both he and the county’s Board of Commissioners would accept the decision by the judge.
In speaking to the newspaper, Hicks said that there has not been any discussion yet among county leaders on whether to appeal the ruling or not. The lawsuit is just the latest confrontation between Oregon state and Josephine County over marijuana. After Oregon legalized commercial pot cultivation back in 2016, the county has been busily trying to prevent it.
One attempt Josephine County made was to place limits on commercial grow sites by banning them in areas zoned R-R, or rural-residential. However, weed cultivators appealed these regulations. Ultimately, Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals froze them, saying the county has not provided cultivators with correct notice of its new law. In response, the county filed the federal lawsuit.
In his finding, the judge noted that the state had not “substantively” prevented Josephine County from implementing its own rules at a local level. However, since Josephine County sites in southwest Oregon, it is just a few miles from the border with California, a region famous for its cultivation of excellent cannabis. For this reason, the county has been struggling with booming grow sites since Oregon legalized.
Recently, the county Board of Commissioners unveiled yet another attempt to restrict weed farming in rural-residential zones. The latest proposal would permit existing commercial farmers to continue cultivating pot, if they are doing so legally, but it would ban any new ones from joining the fray. The hearing for this proposal was set for November 7.
To ensure it meets the requirement for proper notification this time, Josephine County sent out its property tax bills with notifying flyers earlier this month.