BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners continue to look at increasing regulations for marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated areas. They voted last fall to impose stricter time, place and manner restrictions on marijuana operations, but an appeal forced them to reconsider. Commissioners decided they wouldn't reapply for approval of the text amendments until they gathered more public feedback.
During a several hours long public hearing Wednesday, Commissioners heard from several in the pot industry who are against the proposed amendments, and many asked the county to consider dropping existing regulations, altogether. One business owner told them, "I am here to say, because we’re addressing adding amendments to what you’re doing, I’m saying I’m good with how it is now. That’s my position and then we can tackle actually having no regulations on our industry, so we can actually make money." Same claim the regulations are discriminatory since Deschutes County doesn't impose the same restrictions on other crops. Bend-based OreGrown co-owner Hunter Neubauer (pictured) testified, "I’ve heard some interesting comments so far about the abundance of supply, the evil people that are part of the marijuana industry; I’m not one of those people, and a majority of the people in the regulated industry are not those people. I think you guys are in a tricky spot. You’ve put forth regulations that are very difficult to deal with. You are the most restrictive in the state."
But, many rural residents testified grow operations negatively impact their way of life. An Alfalfa woman joined several other residents in calling on Commissioners to impose the stricter rules and consider opting out of allowing pot businesses, completely, "I’d say maybe 55% of what has come in has been okay and gone by the rules. However, the rest of them have not. Our county is a tourist town: Skiing, hiking, horseback riding. Recreational marijuana does not have a place here, right now." Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson was unable to attend the public hearing, but Captain Deron McMaster spoke on his behalf, "His belief is that the state of Oregon does not know better than the commissioners here in Deschutes County. And that they should not be dictating to the county about livability issues and feels it’s the responsibility of the Commission to protect our livability and way of life." Sheriff Nelson has been an outspoken opponent of legalized recreational marijuana. He supports increasing regulations.
Commissioners will continue to accept written testimony on the proposed text amendments for several weeks. They plan to deliberate and decide on a path forward, August seventh.