BEND, OR -- Marijuana advocates are looking forward to a final decision by Deschutes County Commissioners on the fate of the pot industry in unincorporated areas. Business owner Hunter Neubauer was at Monday night’s contentious Planning Commission meeting. He’s happy with their recommendation to allow grow operations on land zoned for Exclusive Farm Use. "EFU is a very unique zone for Oregon, it’s made to farm on. I think we’re very fortunate in Oregon to have that; it protects farmland to make sure that it’s being used for the correct thing. We respect that, and we figured that that would be the most appropriate place to grow cannabis, which is now – as the Legislature states – an agricultural commodity."
Read more about Monday's heated meeting.
Some rural Deschutes County residents were upset over a perceived rise in water use. "At the end of the meeting, a couple of the Deschutes County Planning Commissioners finally spoke up and said that that may not be true, and if we really want to address water usage in Central Oregon, we need to look at alfalfa and horse hay and things like that, that do use quite a bit of water, much more than anything else," says Neubauer. He says marijuana grows typically use less water than other crops. "It’s a very conservative approach to farming. We’ve actually been designing a water conservation method to growing, where we use very little water and there is essentially no waste."
"There’s a lot of questions about ‘do cannabis owners and their farmers have water rights?’ I would say yes, and they need to be used appropriately. That’s a big part of the licensing process; so there’s a little bit of misinformation there," says Neubauer. "I think a lot of people don’t understand that you’ll have to show a water right to get a recreational commercial growing license."
Hear our full conversation with Hunter Neubauer at our Podcast Page
Deschutes County Commissioners will hold public hearings Wednesday, December 2 at 1:30 and 6 p.m. before making a final decision on regulations.