Deschutes County’s long-awaited reassessment of its marijuana rules could have a drastic impact on the cannabis industry in that area.
County commissioners are considering a 75 percent cutback on land already in use for marijuana cultivation, as well asother stringent measures that will have massively negative implications for industry players in this central Oregon County.
Antagonists versus protagonists
As is to be expected, the hearings focused on the antagonists versus the protagonists. Anti-pot residents opposed marijuana businessmen who voiced their concerns about being inadequately represented in the decision-making processes. The residents of rural Oregon areas such as Alfalfa and Tumalo are supporting the more stringent county proposals because they believe that the marijuana industry is changing the face of their communities.
Land use lawyer, Liz Dickson, says the main problem expressed by Deschutes farmers is that “precious” farmland is being wasted on the cultivation of soil-free marijuana. At present, the rules prohibit outdoor marijuana cultivation.
But the co-founder of Glass House Grown, Lindsey Pate, expressed concerns about cannabis growers not having a voice at the hearings.
If these new set of rules are adopted it will undoubtedly have a far-reaching impact on the marijuana industry players who have been operating in the area since 2016 when the county finalized its first set of rules for grow operations.
Changes under consideration
The changes being considered by the county commissioners include:
- The prohibition of cannabis production and processing in land parcels zoned for multi-use agriculture
- Increasing the buffer zone between cannabis grows and public land, schools and national monuments from 1,000 feet to half a mile
- The installation of odor-control systems together with an engineer’s report to demonstrate the efficacy of the system which will then have to be independently tested
- The introduction of more stringent water usage, together with supporting documentation of where the water is to be sourced
What will the changes mean?
According to Deschutes County’s associate planner, Tanya Saltzman, what these proposed changes to the rules amount to is:
- The reduction of land for cannabis production from 209,000 acres to less than 50,000 acres which equates to more than a 75 percent cutback on land presently being used for cultivation
- A cutback on grow lots from 5,402 to 1,218
Cannabis industry members believe that these proposed restrictions will punish them for the sins of the black market and the founder of Clifton Cannabis Law, Jennifer Clifton, says that cracking down on legal members of the legal marijuana industry will not serve as a solution.