BEND, OR -- There’s a new grass-roots effort trying to organize formal opposition to the negative impacts they say will occur if recreational marijuana businesses are allowed in rural Deschutes County. Larry Fulkerson says he got involved with PreserveRuralDeschutes.Org after he discovered a medical marijuana grow operation opened next door. "And at the ripe old age of 69, I was not aware that a grow site produces an odor like a skunk. And, it took me a while to figure out what was going on next door. So, I became involved and went to the public meetings. There were a bunch of is that have been attending the meetings that didn’t particularly like the way the recommendations were going and decided to get involved, and think that people need to be educated."
Fulkerson says his group is not against marijuana use, but they are concerned about increased odor, lighting and traffic issues that could come with this new industry. He feels County Commissioners are doing their best to navigate this uncharted territory and blames state lawmakers for putting Commissioners in a no-win situation. "The marijuana industry, through the Oregon Legislature, has gotten rules and regulations in place that have determined that marijuana is a farm crop," He tells KBND News. "It is protected by all of the parts of the right to farm law." He feels the state legislature should have never passed HB 3400, designating pot as a crop. "Any rules and regulations that the Board of County Commissioners try to impose on the marijuana industry that it doesn’t impose on all other farm products will get voted out of office. How can you tell a marijuana farmer that he can only grow his marijuana on a 20-acre parcel or above, and let the alfalfa farmers grow their crop anywhere they want?"
He says rules imposed on local grow operations are likely to be challenged in court, if the same restrictions aren’t placed on all crops in the county. "They [County Commissioners] have been boxed in by the legislature and marijuana industry to the point that, if they propose rules and regulations that protect property values and standard of living, it stands a very good chance of getting voted down."
Fulkerson says they want to see regulations and enforcement work together. To hear our full conversation with Larry Fulkerson, visit our Podcast Page