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Judge: Dismiss Josephine County’s Attack on Cannabis Laws

Marijuana Justice

Many Oregon cannabis industry observers, including myself and the Medford Mail Tribune Editorial Board, knew that Josephine County was wasting the hard-earned money of taxpayers by challenging Oregon’s adult-use and medical legalization laws in court. Everything that county officials may want to do with cannabis businesses from oversaturation to strict regulations to outright bans (if their constituents agree) are available.

Instead of just implementing sensible rules or placing a potential ban to the voters in a general election, Josephine County Commissioners decided to overturn voter-passed cannabis laws in federal court. A magistrate judge scathingly smacked down the frivolous lawsuit as reported by OPB:

In a recommended order issued August 30, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke found the lawsuit shouldn’t move forward. The primary reason: Clarke found an Oregon county can’t sue the state over a state law.

“The Ninth Circuit has long held that a political subdivision of a state lacks standing to challenge a state law in federal court on supremacy grounds,” Clarke wrote.


“The county has provided no evidence to the court that it has attempted to ban any and all marijuana use and production, as would be theoretically required by full compliance with the CSA,” he wrote. “Instead, the county merely seeks to limit the use and production in rural residential zones, while continuing to allow marijuana use and production in other instances. Apparently the county is only worried about aiding and abetting federal felonies on certain kinds of land and not others.”

It is a shame that any county taxpayers would be forced to pay for such a wasteful lawsuit, but this stings even more for a locale battling severe budget woes. Josephine County doesn’t even provide fire protection and residents recently voted for a tax increase to fund public services after the county sheriff warned of a “fiscal cliff” the locality was about to fall off. Josephine County could be reaping in more tax dollars and stimulating the local economy by implementing pragmatic regulations. Hopefully, local voters remember that county commissioners had no qualms with setting their tax dollars on fire instead of creating jobs and generating revenue by embracing the burgeoning cannabis industry.

Learn the latest about local, federal, and international law at the International Cannabis Business Conference this September 27th-28th in Portland. Hurry and get your tickets by September 12th to save $200! Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the latest info and network with top investors and entrepreneurs. 

Josephine County Commissioners, Mark Clarke, Medford Mail Tribune, OPB