A Canadian County judge said Thursday that he would give attorneys representing the two sides of a lawsuit challenging the City of Yukon’s ordinance regulating medical marijuana additional time to respond to concerns about the lawsuit and the ordinance.
District Judge Paul Hesse heard more than 90 minutes of testimony from Jason Wesley Hodge and Charles Edward Bradley III, who are challenging a law passed by the Yukon City Council last year that regulates all aspects of medical marijuana in Yukon.
Hodge and Bradley are seeking a temporary injunction that would stop Yukon from enforcing its regulations.
Hesse gave attorney Rachel Bussett until March 10 to submit responses to several of his concerns about why she feels the city doesn’t have the authority to regulate where businesses can locate as well as why the city shouldn’t have the right to inspect homes where medical marijuana is being grown.
However, he also wanted John Love, who is representing the city of Yukon, to explain why the city has the authority to regulate what goes on inside someone’s home.
Under the law that was approved by the council, medical marijuana dispensaries cannot be located within 300 feet of places like parks, recreational centers, daycares, churches, libraries and other dispensaries.
Also, marijuana grow operations, as well as processing and warehousing facilities are banned in Yukon.
In addition, anyone with a medical marijuana license is supposed to register with the city and open their homes for an inspection if they plan to grow their own medicinal marijuana.
Bussett has argued that requirement is an invasion of privacy because residents who use other types of medication are not required to register and open their homes for inspection.
However, Love argued that the inspection is to allow officials to confirm that they home is capable of handling “grow lights” that could be up to 1,000 watts.
“It would be treated the same as any change of use of your property or any modification of your property,” Love said.
Hesse, however, said he had concerns about that portion of the law.
“I’m struggling with what the results of this ordinance has on those folks that live in the city of Yukon with a grow permit. That the city can at any time go their house and request to inspect the premises,” Hesse said.
The attorney said that while the ordinance does allow for the city inspect the property, it is unlikely that any inspection would occur after an initial inspection.
Hodge, who initially filed the lawsuit, testified that he had planned to operate a marijuana growing business in Yukon, but has been prevented from doing so by the city’s ordinance.
Hodge said he can grow for personal use under his marijuana medical license but wants to be able to sell the seeds he develops.
For that, he would need a state grow license. He can’t get the license because Yukon bans commercial growing operations as well as processing and warehousing facilities.
Hodge said that several people have sought his product, but he is unable to help them.
He also said that he has spoken with several property owners who said they cannot lease property to him because it would violate the city ordinance.
However, under questioning from Love, Hodge was unable to name anyone other than Bishop, who is his co-plaintiff in the case.
Bishop, who works as a leasing agent for his family’s rental property, said that he has had contact with potential clients who wanted to lease commercial property for dispensaries and other types of marijuana operations. However, when they found out about Yukon’s regulations, had to back out.
Under the regulations, dispensaries are treated much like liquor stores, which limits where they can be located.
Bussett argued they should be treated more like pharmacies.
“The city of Yukon, as far as I am aware, doesn’t have any of these crazy restrictive ordinances as it applies to Walgreens. … They are not prohibited from operating 300 feet from a library, from a playground, from a school or from a daycare center. If we did that, you couldn’t conduct business,” Bussett said.
She also said she understands the concerns that residents have.
“I understand how we all have difficulty wrapping our heads around something that was illegal and has become legal and common place. But we don’t get to treat it differently than we treat other controlled medication. It was passed as medicine, and if it is medicine then it needs to be treated like medicine and regulated like medicine and it needs be dispensed like medicine. People need access to it like medicine. Their rules on growing, the processing, the retailing, the distribution, the storage and the patient access is not regulated like medicine,” she said.
Bussett said if everyone is operating legally, there is no need for the city’s regulations because state law already prevails.
“They are discriminatory, they are unduly burdensome,” she said.
Hesse is expected to rule on Bussett’s request for an injunction during a March 25 hearing.