BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners opted to hit the "pause" button on regulating pot businesses in unincorporated areas. Commissioner Alan Unger supported the decision to opt out, temporarily. "I hear us, as a board, saying we're not exactly ready today to be comfortable with moving forward with any kind of regulation; and that we want to continue to talk about it, work with a citizens committee to become comfortable and help the citizens in the county be more comfortable. Then we can consider a path in the future, whether it's rescind and opt out or whether it's to say 'ya know, this is so contentious we've got to take it to a vote in November.'" Although, he admitted he's not in favor of sending the issue to voters because he thinks it would be too contentious. The board plans to form a citizens committee to provide more feedback.
Commissioner Tammy Baney was concerned about being sued by farmers. "Oregon has Right to Farm legislation that statutorily defines what that looks like, different from a Colorado, different from a Washington. So, that makes us different and, again, why I don't want to stick our neck out without knowing what that looks like. I want to see where that plays on another county, versus us, first." Clackamas and Jackson counties are moving forward with regulations, and Commissioners are watching what happens in those areas.
It was a unanimous vote to opt out, for now. But, Commissioners plan to revisit the issue in 90 days, after the state Legislature meets for its short session. In March, commissioners could permanently "opt out" and have voters decide the issue in November, or they could go forward with regulations.