Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We Changed the Law!

I started smoking marijuana rather than drinking when I was 18, having started when I was drunk.  It saved me from depression and alcoholism.
Ever since, I have heard, “If you don’t like the law, change it!”   After several attempts, we changed it in Oregon, first to allow medical use, and finally to allow all adults to grow and use it.  Measure 91 was so restrictive that I actually campaigned and voted against it, seeing the mischief that could be done by cops that hate pot users with the low possession limits for households to store a year’s worth of homegrown.  Hold onto too much, enough for a household of several smokers, and you could lose your house.  It failed by only 2 votes in Josephine County.  If I had voted for it, it would have been a tie.
But the people of Oregon passed it overwhelmingly, and I was glad.  Our newly elected state representative, Carl Wilson, who had campaigned against it offensively, got himself appointed to the committee to amend Measure 91 and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act and called me and proponents into his office to learn about marijuana and discuss what needed to be changed in Measure 91.  The legislature changed the commercial tax from a grower tax to a sales tax and allowed local governments to make money for their general funds with their own 3% sales tax in House Bill 3400.  They even allowed for reasonable local regulation of licensed marijuana businesses. 
They didn’t change anything regarding the homegrown possession limits in Measure 91.  But without a cause to search, police couldn’t look for excess pot to cause any mischief.   Knowing that OMMP possession limits had been raised from 3 ounces to 24 ounces over several years, I figure that homegrown limits will eventually be raised, and relaxed.
But just before Measure 91 went into effect, the Grants Pass City Council started the process to pass a new nuisance code, allowing only indoor growing of marijuana within the city, and defining a greenhouse as not “indoors.”  Indeed, their definition of “indoors” doesn’t even cover normal houses.  On July 1, the very day I legally planted my crop in my backyard, they passed it on the first reading, but didn’t have the votes for a second reading and finally passed unanimously it on July 15th
The people of Oregon passed a law to end the war on pot users and the Grants Pass City Council and their attorney figure that they can continue it with a city code.  Carl Wilson warned them in writing before their first vote that they were violating SB 863 (2013) and the city could be sued, but they did it anyways.  Their ordinance is so unreasonable that it violates Measure 91 and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, as amended by House Bill 3400, which was signed before the ordinance passed, but they passed it anyways, breaking four state laws with one city code.  I told them on July 23rd that they had even banned possession out of “indoors” in the city, and they simply amended it to remove possession on September 16th.
Their attorney seems to think that they can nullify state laws with this clause:
5.72.060 Conflict of laws
In the event of any conflict between this ordinance and the provisions of any applicable state or local law, the more restrictive provision shall control.
As though a city can overcome state laws with a local code!  This must have been copied from a state law; the state can get away with saying it.  The entire Chapter 5.72, Homegrown and Medical Marijuana, was copied from Central Point’s code of the same name.
SB 863 (2013) forbids local governments and voters from enacting or enforcing any law that inhibits or prevents the production, sale, or advertising of any product of agriculture, which marijuana has been since OMMA passed.   Where the state allows reasonable regulation, as they do in Measure 91 for licensed recreational production, processing and sales, and in HB 3400 for medical, they can pass and enforce reasonable regulations.  Chapter 5.72 definitely inhibits or prevents home production of marijuana, which the state has not allowed local governments to regulate at all, so SB 863 applies to void it regarding homegrown, which the state has not given cities permission to regulate.
The City Council has put a general 2% retail sales tax on the ballot to pay for public safety, but they spurn the 3% sales tax that the state has allowed them for retail marijuana sales, as well as their share of the 17% sales tax that the state will be charging retail “recreational” pot buyers, by banning both medical processing and dispensaries and all licensed “recreational” marijuana businesses. 
This will not help them pass the first general sales tax in Oregon, not least because they have shown us with Chapter 5.72 that they intend to continue making war on pot growers and users.  There are enough in this city to be a large minority, maybe even a majority, of the voters who vote against both city and county levies, because most people don’t vote more money for law enforcement when they might go to jail.  Measure 91 might have changed that, but for this ordinance showing how unreasonably the city would enforce it.
Chapter 5.72’s “indications” of cultivation, which are vague, ordinary annoyances not necessarily tied to pot cultivation, give police plenty of opportunity to search our homes, not only to see if we are violating the ordinance, but to see if we possess too much marijuana or its products to be within the homegrown exception to the licensing rules.  This would then allow them to seize our home for violating the license we don’t have.  Fines are just the tip of the iceberg of penalties that we can be hit with.
We voted to change the law; the Council voted to continue their war on us.  They can’t legally do it.  That’s why I’m suing the City.
September 28, 2015 protest leaflet.  Published on GardenGrantsPass.blogspot.com.  Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/grants-pass-city-manager-aaron-cubic-leave-pot-growers-alone-target-litter-and-weeds
Support the lawsuit at www.GoFundMe.com/HomegrownDefense 

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com