Judge: Oregon county’s lawsuit against state cannabis law should be dismissed

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A federal lawsuit filed by a southern Oregon county with a large number of cannabis growers looks likely to fail after a magistrate judge recommended the case be tossed out.

Josephine County’s lawsuit argues that the state’s cannabis industry is preempted by the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana, the Portland Business Journal reported.

But Judge Mark D. Clarke wrote that the county doesn’t have the authority to sue over state statutes in federal court, according to the Business Journal.

“As a political subdivision of the State of Oregon, Josephine County lacks standing to sue the State under the Supremacy Clause,” Judge Clarke wrote, agreeing with the state’s motion to toss out the case. “There are no exceptions to this rule within the Ninth Circuit.”

Clarke also noted that the county’s ordinance restricting cultivation sites on rural residential property had been put on hold, not overturned, because the county didn’t properly notify landowners.

Cultivators in Josephine County had previously challenged the ordinance, which was adopted in December. Among other restrictions, the law bans commercial marijuana grows on properties 5 acres or smaller.

Josephine County is one of the largest marijuana-producing counties in the state. Unlike neighboring counties, Josephine didn’t enact restrictions on where growers could establish their operations when cultivation was legalized in 2014.

Locals have complained that marijuana growers are a nuisance, while licensed growers in the county have said the local government and law enforcement efforts should be focused on curbing illegal MJ operations.