Oregon county officials sue state over cannabis farms

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Officials in an Oregon county who have tried to restrict commercial marijuana production sued the state in federal court, asserting state laws that made cannabis legal are pre-empted by federal law that criminalize MJ.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, escalated a long-running battle between the state and the Josephine County Board of Commissioners.

The commissioners argue that cannabis farms are a nuisance. The county is in a prime marijuana-producing region in southern Oregon.

Commissioner Dan DeYoung has said rural residents, many of them retirees, are fed up with the proliferating farms in areas zoned as rural residential.

The commission in December tried to ban commercial cannabis farming on rural residential lots of five acres or less and to drastically reduce the size of some larger grow sites.

But the state Land Use Board of Appeals later put the restrictions on hold, saying the county failed to properly notify landowners.

The commissioners’ lawsuit contends the state cannot dictate marijuana regulations over county restrictions because the plant remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The lawsuit calls on a federal court in Medford to declare that two ballot measures in 1998 and 2014 that legalized medical and recreational marijuana, respectively, are trumped by federal law.

Associated Press