Judge tosses Oregon county’s marijuana lawsuit against state

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2015, file photo the plants at Michael Monarch's marijuana grow, about 100 plants in all, flourish under vistas of the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains near Ashland, Ore. A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Josephine County filed against the state of Oregon over legalized marijuana. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, signed the order formally dismissing the lawsuit, which had been filed in April. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP, File)

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by an Oregon county that targeted the state over legalized marijuana.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane signed a formal order dismissing Josephine County’s lawsuit earlier this week, saying a city or county doesn’t have standing to sue a state in federal court, The Daily Courier reported Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed in April and contended that federal law banning marijuana pre-empts Oregon’s law legalizing marijuana for commercial sales.

County legal counsel Wally Hicks says he and the county Board of Commissioners accept the ruling. He told the newspaper that county leaders have not yet discussed whether to appeal.

The lawsuit was the latest battle between Josephine County and the state over pot. After commercial marijuana grows became legal in Oregon in 2016, the county tried retroactively to place limits on them by banning pot grows in areas zoned rural residential.

Marijuana growers appealed and the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals ultimately froze the county’s regulations, saying it hadn’t provided proper notice of its new rule. That set the stage for the federal lawsuit.

The judge found that the state hadn’t “substantively” prevented the county from enacting its own local rules.

The county in southwest Oregon just is miles from the California border, in an excellent region for growing marijuana, and has struggled with a boom in marijuana grows since state legalization.

The county Board of Commissioners recently unveiled a new attempt at restrictions on marijuana farming in rural residential zones. The new proposal would allow legal commercial farms to continue but ban new ones.

A hearing has been set for Nov. 7 on the latest proposal.

To satisfy the notification requirement, the county added flyers to property tax bills that were sent out earlier this month.

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Information from: Daily Courier, http://www.thedailycourier.com

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