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Judge sides with Yuba County in marijuana ordinance lawsuit

Andrew Creasey
Special to The Union

A lawsuit claiming Yuba County’s ordinance on medical marijuana cultivation is unconstitutional and discriminatory was effectively dismissed by a judge Thursday.

Judge Benjamin Wirtschafter granted the county’s summary motion regarding a lawsuit filed against the county by several individuals and the Yuba Patient Coalition last year, which ended all pending legal challenges over the constitutionality of the county’s medical marijuana ordinance.

“The judge ruled in our favor, saying that the plaintiffs don’t have a case,” said John Vacek, chief deputy county counsel for Yuba County. “It’s roughly similar to a dismissal, but it’s a ruling that the ordinance is constitutional, not just a dismissal of the case.”

The lawsuit maintained that the ordinance is vague and discriminates against those who can’t afford to comply with the requirements for growing marijuana in accessory structures.

Attorney Charnel James argued those points in court Wednesday as reasons the case should continue. But Wirtschafter disregarded some of her arguments and said her pleas have not been fixed to the court’s satisfaction.

James did not return a call for comment as of late Thursday afternoon.

The county’s previous ordinance, developed in 2012 following a lawsuit by the Yuba County Growers Association, allowed 18 plants on an acre or less and as many as 99 on 20 acres or more. The new one, which the Board of Supervisors approved in March 2015, allows no outdoor plants, 12 inside an accessory structure and none in residences.

Andrew Creasey is a reporter with the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. Contact him at 530-749-4780, acreasey@appealdemocrat.com and on Twitter @AD_Creasey.

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