REEDSPORT — Herbal Choices, a marijuana dispensary with several locations around Coos County, is suing the city of Reedsport for $315,000 after it allegedly violated the business’ First Amendment right to put an abstract depiction of a plant on its signage.
The lawsuit, which was filed on April 18 in U.S. District Court in Eugene by HC Retail, INC, claims that City Manager Jonathan Wright’s decision to revoke Herbal Choices’ license caused the business to lose $315,000 in future profits.
In March, Reedsport revoked Herbal Choices’ license for 90 days after it violated a city ordinance that states proposed developments cannot display signage or advertisements that show photos or illustrations of a marijuana plant.
The business put up a sign depicting its logo - a cannabis leaf - outside its would-be storefront at 1891 Winchester Ave. off U.S. Highway 101.
The suit asks for the city to reinstate the license, and to pay for lost profits and attorney’s fees.
The complaint states, “Defendants' immediate revocation of Plaintiff s license without notice and an opportunity to be heard was a severe action that was far more extensive than necessary to serve any governmental interest in the speech at issue.”
During the Reedsport City Council’s April 1 meeting, Herbal Choices representative Nino Pelayo said he was told the sign wasn’t allowed to go up with a cannabis leaf on it. But he explained that there was a “miscommunication with staff” and they put the sign up anyway.
He told council members he didn’t want the work the business had done thus far to be jeopardized by the incident.
Herbal Choices’ attorney Jason Montgomery did not return calls seeking comment.
Wright declined to comment.
Jim Deatherage, whose contact is listed on the Oregon Secretary of State’s business license for Herbal Choices, said the dispensary spent a lot of time and money developing the logo so it wouldn’t look like a marijuana leaf.
Deatherage said, “When you’re in this kind of business you try to get along with people but when there’s no way to get along with people you’ve just got to fight.
“You invest $500,000 in a town and they take away your business.”
Rosalina Deatherage is listed as the agent, president and secretary of Herbal Choices on state documents.