March 22, 2018 – The Commissioners of Josephine County Oregon, with advice from the county counsel Wally Hicks, have decided to make a desperate move to stop cannabis grows on Rural Residential lands in their county by appealing directly to the federal government to intervene. The move is part of a mufti-faceted and aggressive response to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) decision earlier this month.
The Commissioners announced their intention after a closed door meeting on Tuesday, March 20. Their plan is to appeal the LUBA decision, Adopt land use rules that mirror neighboring Jackson County and, most alarmingly, seek a federal declaratory judgment using the Controlled Substances Act. The Grants Pass Daily Courier reports:
“The most startling move is the commissioners’ intention to seek a “federal declaratory judgment” involving the federal Controlled Substances Act, although details about those arguments have not been made public. Possession of marijuana is deemed a federal crime.
County Legal Counsel Wally Hicks said details about the move in federal court will be forthcoming.
In addition, the county intends to appeal in state court a decision last week by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.”
This desperate move was brought about when the county was blocked by LUBA, putting a hold on any enforcement by the county regarding their new ordinance passed in late 2017. The county has argued that the cannabis farming is a nuisance, which is driven by complaints about grows in Rural Residential areas and black market diversion issues. Unfortunately for the county, LUBA decision found they did not follow the proper rules and procedures on the land use changes. KOBI reported:
“Back in December, a group of farmers, who called themselves F.A.R.M.S Inc, also known as ‘Farming and Agricultural Rights Management Society’ appealed the county commissioner’s ordinance, which at the time stated, marijuana in rural residential zones would be prohibited on a lot of five acres or less with the exception of 12 personal mature plants.
[March 14], LUBA granted the group’s motion stating the county failed to notify residents by mail, and did not comply with procedural requirements.”
The move to mirror the Jackson County ordinance would be less restrictive than the Josephine County ordinance. Jackson county’s actually allowed existing grows to remain on rural residential property. That was actually acceptable to the F.A.R.M.S Inc. contingent.
“I hope that’s what they do,” Ross Day, the attorney for the group told the daily Courier. “The (Jackson County) ordinance is actually not a bad ordinance. All it really does, it says you can’t grow on rural residential land.”
The Commissioners overreaction to try and involve the federal government sends a loud signal to cannabis hater Attorney General Jeff Sessions. With his recension of the Cole Memo and recent statements about enforcement, including the use of property seizure, their move could be reckless and even dangerous.
If the federal intervention occurs and farms are raided, they will all be medical marijuana grows, which will impact patients and access to their medicine. Would these raids be offered the protection of the Rorahbacher-Blumenhaur amendment, which prohibits the use of federal money to arrest or prosecute federal marijuana laws if the operations fall under a states medical marijuana laws? Could we see a return to the days of federal raids on medical grows in Oregon like we saw just a few years ago?
Lets hope not, and hope there can be some common sense coming from the reactionary, over-reaching and dangerous county leaders. Attacking the economic engine that has been driving one of the poorest counties in Oregon seems myopic and ignorant.
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