Weed supporters win, lose

Judge rules for patients, but says city zoning regs are lawful

Yukon Progress, Canadian County, Yukon Review
Paul Hesse, District Judge (left) and Rachel Bussett Plaintiffs’ attorney (right).

By Tim Farley
News Editor

EL RENO – Medical marijuana advocates earned a partial victory in court Monday when a judge ruled a Yukon ordinance prohibiting marijuana growing facilities for personal use could not be enforced.

In addition, Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse ruled the city could not enforce the ordinance related to inspections of homes where marijuana is grown for personal medicinal purposes.

However, medical marijuana advocates sustained a loss when the judge ruled the city’s ordinance about the location of retail medical marijuana establishments was upheld. The Yukon city council approved an ordinance that restricts retail medical marijuana shops from locating within 1,000 feet of a school and 300 feet from libraries, museums, playgrounds, churches, public parks, jails and other retail marijuana stores.

Rachel Bussett, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in this case, said she was disappointed by that part of the judge’s decision. She intends to speak to her clients before deciding if the ruling will be appealed.

“It comes as we expected,” she said. “The commercial regulations are something we will look at on appeal. We won the issue on patients, but I am disappointed with the rest of the ruling. The commercial regulations are discriminatory and they (city officials) can’t do that.”
John Love, an attorney for the city, declined to comment since the case may be appealed.

In November 2018, voters approved State Question 788 which allows medical marijuana use by individuals, the sale of marijuana in retail outlets and commercial growing operations.

Yukon has one retail medical marijuana store, The Green Lily, 355 E. Main Street. Another medical marijuana outlet is located outside city limits at State Highway 66 and Sara Road.
Bussett argued during Monday’s hearing that Yukon does not have the police power to raid a home owned by a person with a state-issued medical marijuana license.

In the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, Bussett wrote, “These inspections amount to an unreasonable search of plaintiffs’ property without probable cause under state or federal law. The provision for inspections are contrary to the Constitution and laws of the State of Oklahoma, and, as such, exceed the legislative authority granted to Defendant under the Oklahoma statutes and should be declared void by this court.”

Although the judge agreed with Bussett on the personal use and growth part of the lawsuit, Hesse wrote that police powers were limited, not extinguished due to SQ 788. Later in his ruling, Hesse wrote, “Insufficient evidence has been presented by the Plaintiffs to establish that Ordinance No. 1365 unduly restricts the zoning laws to prevent the opening of retail marijuana establishment in the City.”

The judge reminded the parties in his ruling that plaintiff John Wesley Hodge testified at a Feb. 14 hearing that at least one retail establishment operates in Yukon. In addition, the judge wrote in his ruling that plaintiff Charles Edward Bishop III testified at the same hearing that he has commercial rental properties available in the city that could be used as a marijuana dispensary.

Hesse also wrote in his ruling the plaintiffs failed to present evidence that conditions of operation, such as store hours, are unduly restrictive.