Deschutes County Commissioners Monday unanimously agreed to repeal previous marijuana regulations, opting out of allowing new land use applications for future pot operations in unincorporated parts of the county.
They agreed to an emergency clause, which means it takes effect immediately.
The moratorium remains in effect until the issue is sent back to voters in 2020.
Their decision could result in a loss of revenue for Deschutes County, if the state chooses to withhold the tax dollars collected from the businesses that remain.
Voters in the cities of Sisters and Culver rejected measures that would’ve allowed marijuana dispensaries in the city limits.
Voters in Sisters banned both medical and recreational marijuana sales, but a measure that would’ve taxed pot sales if dispensaries had been allowed passed with a majority vote.
Dispensaries are also likely to be voted down in Culver, but the race is still very tight.
Just three months ago, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office added a new officer to their ranks to assist the Central Oregon drug enforcement team, with a focus on illegal marijuana operations in Deschutes County.
The new proactive marijuana enforcement officer focuses on the illegal manufacture, processing, sale and exportation of marijuana, as well as performing regular compliance checks. It’s a position sheriff Shane Nelson has long advocated for.
The new detective is paying dividends already with a recent bust of an illegal grow in southeast Bend. In addition to the 93 mature marijuana plants found, 55 immature plants, nearly 6 pounds of dried marijuana and 5 pounds of butane honey oil product were also seized at the home.
The proactive marijuana enforcement officer position, as well as the two new positions at the Bend Police Department, is fully funded by the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners using funds from the county’s marijuana tax collections.
Residents Comment on Potential Updates for Local Grows
Deschutes County Commissioners got an earful Tuesday night at a public hearing that was scheduled to allow residents to weigh-in on proposed changes to the regulation of marijuana grows across the county.
Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel was live from the Deschutes Services building where Tuesday’s 2 p.m. public hearing ran well past 6 p.m.
County Commissioners Hoping to Add Two New Enforcement Positions
After months of discussion with state, county and city officials the Deschutes County Commissioners made a first step today in addressing the ongoing issues with marijuana enforcement and regulations in Deschutes County.
County staff confirmed today that they will be looking into the hiring and funding of two new law enforcement positions as part of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team, known as CODE.
This was an idea proposed and supported by both County Commissioners and Bend City Councilors at a joint meeting held last week.
While CODE serves a tri-county area, these two positions would focus solely on enforcement in Deschutes County. The cost of hiring will likely be split, one going to the City of Bend for a police officer position and one would be a deputy sheriff position paid for by Deschutes County.
Commissioners also discussed raising the applications fees for marijuana grows in order to cover the cost of the extra time and effort county staff to deal with the complicated applications and the appeals that often follow.
Commissioners also floated the idea of putting a temporary pause on the processing of marijuana applications in order to clarify and fill in gaps in the current county code, but they are expected discuss those ideas in depth next week.
What started out as a search for a stolen snowboard ended with the bust of an illegal marijuana growing operation in La Pine. Local law enforcement officials are calling this a symptom of a bigger problem across the county and the state.
Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the story.
On Thursday the Trump administration lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on marijuana markets in states where the drug is legal. It is now up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ action came just three days after a legalization law went into effect in California. The lift of the policy now threatened the future of the young industry and created confusion in states, like Oregon, where the drug is legal.
Oregon governor Kate Brown said Thursday the state will fight Sessions’ move to lift the policy on federal enforcement of the drug in order to protect the state’s economic interests. Brown said marijuana is an important component of the state’s economy and has creating more than 19,000 jobs.
Oregon was the first state to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in 1973. Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational use in 2014.
It is not clear how the change might affect states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. A congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Justice officials said they would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.
Officials wouldn’t say whether federal prosecutors would target marijuana shops and legal growers, nor would they speculate on whether pot prosecutions would increase.
Courtesy of the Associated Press
Deschutes County residents East of Bend, Oregon are fighting a proposal to start a marijuana production facility on land currently zoned for exclusive farm use.
Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan reports on a public hearing where more than two dozen residents showed up to voice their concerns about the proposed pot farm.
In the past few years, states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana at a state level, even thought it goes against federal marijuana laws. Now, the arrival of a new attorney general has some lawmakers and everyone in the legal marijuana industry concerned about what the federal government may enforce going forward.
Central Oregon Daily’s Mackenzie Wilson has the story.