McMinnville, Ore. — "This is hostile territory. Everyone hates us."
I was riding up a steep hill near Highway 18 one August afternoon when Richard Wagner blurted out what his lawyer had told me weeks earlier: No one wanted to be his neighbor.
Mr. Wagner, 33, was seated next to his mother, Mary, who was behind the wheel of her Subaru Outback, navigating a strip of dry grass and rocks in a meadow here overlooking the Willamette Valley. Mr. Wagner's neighbors had made it possible last year for his parents to buy 6.7 acres of land. But in February, when he told them he was going to grow and process marijuana, his quaint country fellows suddenly weren't so chill.
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He was sued. The neighbors also asked for a temporary restraining order to stop him from using a shared road to haul his products to market. When Mr. Wagner made a case for his processing facility at a county commission meeting in April, he was outnumbered by critics: 14 to one. Even Mother Nature turned a cold shoulder. A storm walloped his hilltop home with a foot of snow in January, one of the worst storms since the 1940s.
Mr. Wagner, though, saved his particular ire for the winemaker who works at the bottom of the hill and who he said was his most powerful foe. "We don't talk," he said.
In April, the winery owner filed a report with the sheriff's office after the tail of one his cows was severed, warning it could be retaliation for opposing Mr. Wagner's cannabis farm. Worse, the winemaker got threatening phone calls, one from a man who said he would torch the winery if he didn't make peace with his ganja-loving neighbor.