Federal judge dismisses class action over ‘implausible’ cannabis fines in Humboldt County CA

Via Courthouse News

Landowners in Humboldt County aggrieved by the county’s harsh fines for code violations — some related to illegal cannabis grows — saw their class action tossed by a federal judge without leave to amend.

“Despite the FAC’s length, overlooking its irrelevant content, and its conclusory and implausible assertions — and in light of the materials of which the court is taking judicial notice — it becomes clear that the underlying facts do not, and simply can not, entitle these plaintiffs to any relief against these defendants,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Illman wrote in dismissing the lawsuit in full.

Five Humboldt County landowners filed a class action in October 2022, claiming the county fined them hundreds of thousands of dollars — and in the case of one couple, over $1 million — for allegedly cultivating marijuana without a permit and without an investigation or opportunity to defend themselves.

The plaintiffs claimed after California legalized marijuana for recreational use in November 2016, Humboldt County created an abatement program to fine landowners that have “committed traditional nuisances and permitting violations” to grow marijuana without a permit. However, the plaintiffs say the county blindly correlates code violations with the assumption of marijuana growing, exponentially increasing the fines from initial violations.

Violations like building a temporary greenhouse without a permit, for example, carry a daily fine between $6,000 and $10,000. Yet, the plaintiffs claimed the county bases its allegations of marijuana farming off “crude aerial images” without probable cause. The plaintiffs also claimed the county often adds another $10,000 per day by claiming they couldn’t have built a greenhouse without unpermitted land grading — catching several landowners like plaintiff Blu Graham, who claimed he faced $90,000 in fines for growing marijuana when he was actually growing vegetables for his restaurant.

More at https://www.ganjapreneur.com/judge-tosses-humboldt-class-action-lawsuit-against-countys-cannabis-cultivation-fines/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=judge_tosses_humboldt_cannabis_class_action_lawsuit_oregon_cannabis_firms_must_now_prove_tax_compliance_and_more&utm_term=2023-05-18

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