Oregon County Sues State in Federal Court Saying State Laws are Pre-empted by Federal Law
Not everyone in Oregon is thrilled about being one of the first and most successful legal marijuana states.
Officials in one Oregon county are suing the state on the basis that the 2014 vote that legalized recreational marijuana pre-empted federal law that continues to criminalize it.
Here we have a perfect example of the chaos that reigns within our nation’s contradictory legal system when it comes to legal marijuana: states’ rights vs. federal oversight. What will it be?
The lawsuit, filed this week in a US District Court, underscores the battle between Oregon’s Josephine County Board of Commissioners and the state over regulating marijuana grows in so-called rural residential areas.
The panel contends that pot farms in this area, which are in the prime weed-producing region of southern Oregon, are a “nuisance” because apparently there are too many of them.
County Commissioner Dan DeYoung said that rural residents, many of whom are retirees, are getting annoyed with the green activity going on around them in this fertile mountainous area.
"The good people are leaving and the marijuana people are staying," said DeYoung, in defense of the “good people” according to the Daily Courier newspaper.
DeYoung seems to be echoing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who famously declared that "good people don't smoke marijuana."
The County Commissioner also seems to be energized by Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memo last January, basically telling states that they don’t need to respect their own voters’ decision to legalize marijuana.
Last December, the commission tried to ban commercial pot farming on rural residential lots of five acres or less and to drastically reduce the size of some larger grow sites.
The state Land Use Board of Appeals put the restrictions on hold, saying the county failed to properly notify landowners.
Pete Gendron, a cannabis grower in the county and president of the Oregon SunGrowers' Guild, said growers have invested large sums to start operations and were shocked when the county tried to restrict them.
Takilma marijuana farm CEO and plaintiff Mason Walker said it has been business as usual for his farm, although the legal dust up was taking its toll.
"The biggest impact has been my legal fees," he said. "A lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of energy."