BEND, OR -- Since Deschutes County Commissioners formed a Marijuana Advisory Committee several months ago, the 13-member group has tackled possible restrictions on outdoor marijuana grow operations in rural parts of the county. But, after 26 hours of meetings, member Sam Davis says they haven't found much to agree on. "A lot has been made about the rights of the marijuana industry, but our rural residents have rights, too. We've spent far more investing in our homes than the marijuana industry will ever invest in their properties. It's been estimated by one of the anti-marijuana activists on the other side of the mountains that one facility impacts 16-20 residential homes." He says nine committee members were affiliated with the pot industry, four were against allowing outdoor grows.
Member Liz Lotochinski tells KBND News she hopes Commissioners continue to ban the operations. "The County Commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility to all of the citizens of Deschutes County, not just those that are involved in this industry. And, I hope that they take seriously that responsibility and look at what risks, issues and impacts will be afforded to those individuals living next to those potential marijuana grows." She doesn't think this is what voters intended when they passed Measure 91. "The state lawmakers took Measure 91 and hoodwinked the voters by identifying marijuana as a crop, and affording it all the protections that it gets by being a crop by Oregon's Right to Farm laws. That means, neighbors can't sue for nuisance impacts. It has all the rights associated with any other farming crop, but it's not like any other farming crop."
Deschutes County Commissioners are expected to make a decision May fourth. If they continue to opt out, voters would decide the future of the ban in November. Or, they could agree to allow outdoor pot grows in rural areas, with certain restrictions.