BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners met Wednesday to discuss possible revisions for time, place, and manner regulations for the marijuana industry. While no vote was taken, there was unanimous support from the board to add a limited-duration deputy Sheriff position to help with enforcement.
In an attempt to make the application process more expedient, they're considering whether a hearings officer should be in charge of making final land use decisions for marijuana facilities, rather than have Commissioners hear every application. Commissioner Phil Henderson believes that shortchanges applicants, "I'm not yet convinced that a hearings officer hearing is better than us hearing it. I've read some of these hearings officer decisions, now that I've been on the board for awhile, and I see personal opinions in those as well as they're not as legal an analysis. I mean, I feel like people, they have a right to still be heard by us."
They also discussed a temporary stop to accepting applications, to allow Commissioners time to make sure changes they want to make are legal. Commissioner Tammy Baney wonders if a pause is a good idea, as it wastes vetting time that might be needed to investigate an application in the 150 day timeframe that is set by the state. "For those who don't want us taking applications, we are still allowing applications to come in, but unless we truly do an 'opt-out,' we wouldn't be able to not take an application. if we do take an application, and we don't process it by that timeline, at the end of the 150 days, it's a 'yes,' regardless." Commissioner Tony DeBone says all of the potential revisions may need more community input, "Let's Do it! but, what would we do? What would we send out? That would be the trick there, because months ago, I thought, 'we need to have clarity from the voters on this'." He went on to wonder, "What's the question we would see on the ballot?"
Commissioners plan to hold another meeting early next week to discuss fee structure, the possible pause in application processing, and whether to put a hearings officer in charge of final land use decisions. Commissioner Henderson noted, "One of the biggest things I've noticed this whole debate, is everybody is happy with marijuana that's at somebody else's house. It's interesting."