When Ammon Bundy was arrested in January 2016 for leading the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, he called Eugene attorney Mike Arnold for help.
Now Arnold, whose nearly two-decade career has taken him from a Lane County law clerk to a highprofile attorney representing accused murderers and defending Bundy in his first four months in jail, has left his firm for a job that might have made him a criminal just a few years ago.
Arnold has become a marijuana grower.
He co-founded One Gro in February with business partner PJ Martinez. They are operating on about 50 acres of farmland on two sites near the Coast Fork of the Willamette and Row rivers, with four marijuana grows totaling 40,000 plants.
He has been phasing out legal work with Arnold Law in Eugene, mentoring attorney Lissa Casey to take high-profile cases while his wife, Jacy Arnold, continues to run the firm.
When he started One Gro, Arnold planned to manage the business and Arnold Law. But as the marijuana startup rapidly grew, he knew it needed his full attention.
“For a while, I was getting up at 4 a.m. to get One Gro work done before the Arnold Law team arrived, doing legal work when I could and then heading to the farm to do tractor work at night with the headlights on,” Arnold wrote in an email. “That was unsustainable.”
During the years, Arnold, 40, has been as outspoken about his love for farming as he has been about his prominent cases, like his defense of Springfield resident Gerald Strebendt in a 2014 road rage shooting case.
Arnold lives on a farm near Creswell with his wife and two children, raising poultry and American guinea hogs, growing fruit trees and running