MADRAS, OR -- Industrial hemp is often lumped in with recreational and medical marijuana, when it comes to local land use regulations. Madras City Councilors will consider a group of code amendments Tuesday that would clear the way for more hemp – or CBD – to be grown and processed in the area, "We’ve been told that Jefferson County could become the ‘Napa Valley’ for CBD, because of the growing conditions," Madras Community Development Director Nick Snead tells KBND News. But, hemp production it’s currently restricted by time, place and manner regulations for pot. "When the city adopted our medical and recreational marijuana regulations, we did so under the definition used by the state of Oregon at that time. That definition included marijuana and hemp as one thing called ‘marijuana'."
Snead says he and a Planning Commissioner visited a CBD processing facility in Woodburn to assess whether it brings the same issues associated with processing pot. "That kind of field trip was extremely informative, to the extent that it affirmed that the city needs to consider CBD processing facilities just like any other manufacturing use or processing facility." He says changes are now in the works, "We are trying to amend our code to be responsive, and somewhat proactive, in creating a regulatory framework that makes it easy for the industrial hemp industry to come to Madras and Jefferson County to conduct business."
Aside from the ideal growing conditions, the region is a major exporter of carrot seed and Snead says that regional expertise would easily transfer to producing hemp seed. "We want to allow the industrial hemp processing only in the Industrial zone and in the Mixed Use Employment zone; and that there are no other special regulations," he says. But, that means changing the city's current definition to separate hemp from marijuana, "We’re actually using the same definition as the state, again: the restriction of THC not exceeding .3% and then there’s some other defining characteristics of hemp, as well."
A public hearing for the proposed code changes is scheduled for Tuesday night's Council meeting.