BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners unanimously voted to allow recreational marijuana grows in rural parts of the county. They delayed a vote on the controversial issue last December so they could study it more. But, after months of public hearings and deliberation, they voted Wednesday to opt in to allow these grows.
Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone said, "I don't see that it's going to help to bring it to a divisive vote of the people, at this point in time. Measure 91 passed in our county. The 'opt out' was given the opportunity for counties where it didn't pass by more than 55%. At this point, I'm supportive of rescinding the opt out and in putting reasonable regulations in place."
Commissioner Tammy Baney added, "Many have thought that opting out means marijuana goes away in Deschutes County. If we had a nickel for every time we received an email saying 'protect our children by opting out,' I think there wouldn't be budget gaps in the state. But I think we have a responsibility to do what we can to find balance somewhere in the middle of a very divisive issue."
Commissioner Alan Unger agreed, "I think we were elected to lead and this is our responsibility to lead; and that's what we're doing. We're making decisions and we're moving forward. I also think we realize that rural lifestyle in Deschutes County has been precious and people really have come here for that. But, it is also EFU land; and this state has a prescriptive way of protecting Exclusive Farm Use land, and we here have bumped up against it on numerous things that we have done." Unger added, "And we'll adjust. If we see there are issues, we'll adjust. We're trying to do some kind of good neighbor so responsible people on both sides can live with each other and move forward. And, in some ways, we're now kind of allowing our rural land to be mixed stages."
The grows won't be allowed until later this year when Commissioners have mapped out and adopted regulations.