Staff photo San Juan Sungrown’s David Rice inspects the progress of marijuana plants under cultivation in a greenhouse at the San Juan Island production facility in mid-October 2015.

Long legal battle over pot farm settled

Four years after the first filing of a lawsuit over a private road, a financial settlement was reached last August.

The owners of Fieldstone Farm settled with their neighbors for an undisclosed amount, according to The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly newspaper.

Last February, a judge ruled that Fieldstone Farm could not be used for commercial business, thanks to a long-standing easement over a shared road between neighbors’ properties that prohibited access to “non-residential structures.”

The farm’s owners, Jenny and David Rice, could no longer operate David’s newly established marijuana farm and Jenny’s horse farm, both located on the property.

The case ignited a heated debate on the islands over marijuana sales, land use regulations and class. Letters to the editor from islanders brought up concerns that the Rices were unfairly treated because they were from working-class families. Other letters claimed that the Rices knowingly bought the property with the designated easement.

In Washington, legal recreational marijuana sales began in July 2014, but the farmers’ neighbors objected to the marijuana farm’s loud construction, bright lights and transportation of materials next to their homes.

Jenny told The Stranger in Nov. 29, 2016 that she can no longer afford the farm. According to the realtor’s website, the farm has been on the market for more than a year. Jenny did not return The Journal’s request for an interview.

According to The Stranger, the neighbors asked for $80,000 in legal fees in May 2015. Three families filed the suit against the Rices, including Deb Nolan and her husband.

“It’s time to let things go,” said Nolan. “Things are settled between everyone and it’s time to move on. It’s been hard on everyone.”