Montana Supreme Court denies request to remove judge from marijuana case against Cascade County

Judge Mike McGrath, chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court, denied a request by Cascade County to have Judge Amy Eddy disqualified from presiding over a case against the county regarding a dispute over a marijuana operation.

Mark Higgins, the county’s attorney from the Montana Association of Counties, filed a request with the court earlier this month, asking that Eddy be removed from the case due to bias against the county.

County appeals marijuana injunction; requests to have judge removed from case

On Dec. 7, McGrath issued an order issued an order denying the request since the rulings Eddy made that the county took issue with can be addressed in an appeal, “Cascade County has not demonstrated grounds for disqualification.”

The case stems from an August civil suit filed by Dale and Janelle Yatsko and their business Green Creek Dispensary.

Court grants injunction against county in dispute over medical marijuana operation

They argue that they had been operating their medical marijuana growing facility and dispensary at 55 and 57 Gibson Flat Road since early 2016 with the county’s knowledge and consent.

County approves intent to change zoning for recreational marijuana

The Yatskos lease the property and in 2015 it was zoned as commercial, where medical marijuana was not allowed under the county zoning regulations at the time, according to their complaint.

In their complaint, the Yatsko said that the property was too small to be rezoned to agricultural so the property owner, Sandra Dickman, purchased adjoining acreage to bring the total of the property to more than 20 acres to have it rezoned to agricultural.

County Commission to consider proposed zoning changes for recreational marijuana

The Yatskos argue in their suit that the county was aware of the intended use of the property when it granted the rezone request.

In a Nov. 5 order from Judge Amy Eddy granted the injunction to maintain the status quo of their marijuana operation while the case is further litigated, specifically whether the Yatskos operation should be grandfathered under the new regulations, which the Yatskos argue should happen, while the county argues they were not an allowable use before the regulations change and should not be grandfathered.