Medical Marijuana dispensaries coming to areas outside cities
Deschutes County Commissioners wrestled again Wednesday with the kinds of operating restrictions that should be put on medical marijuana dispensaries when they apply to open up shop in the unincorporated areas of Deschutes County, come May 1st when the county’s moratorium is lifted.
The commissioners predictably supported already established state rules that prohibit a medical marijuana dispensary within 1,000 of a school and that hours of operation be limited from 10am to 7pm. However, the commissioners were also concerned that the legislature could combine medical and recreational marijuana sales under one roof when recreational marijuana goes on sale next year. Commissioner Tammy Baney expressed a lot of heartburn if the county doesn’t put more rules in place to keep marijuana sales far away from parks, YMCA’s or other areas that cater to children. She said “We don’t know if the legislature will allow combined sales in one facility – but if lawmakers do allow it, we should be ready to deal with it.”
A county planner gave the commissioners a way to do just that by suggesting the county’s “change of use” provisions be applied. He said if a medical marijuana operator wanted to add recreational marijuana to his business menu, he’d have to come into the county permit center and apply for a ‘change of use’ permit. It’s at this juncture that the county could determine that recreation marijuana be treated quite differently than medical marijuana. And depending on where the pre-existing medical marijuana facility is located, it could be turned down for a recreational marijuana permit, forcing the operator to move his business to a whole new location, far enough away from “sensitive areas.”
Commissioners were quite satisfied with that option and instructed legal and planning staff to draw up county ordinances that control where medical marijuana outlets can locate, hours of operation and a provision that doesn’t allow medical marijuana operators to expand to recreational sales without having to jump through more hoops.
All this will be back before the commissioners on April 22nd. Because the commission closed the record at the last public hearing (which is also closed), there won’t be any more public testimony taken in front of the commission. The 22nd will be when they deliberate and formally adopt the new regulations. Again, they’re looking at a May 1st deadline when the state mandates all temporary county and city moratoriums are lifted statewide.
Shepherd Private Park off Holmes Road, between Sisters and Terrebonne
Shepherd family gets green light on adding “private park” to their small farm
Deschutes County Commissioners gave the green light to the Shepherd family to build a private park next to their home out Holmes Road, halfway between Sisters and Terrebonne. Commissioners said that despite repeated complaints from environmental interests, including Central Oregon Landwatch, the private park idea, catering to weddings, family reunions, graduation parties, and other special events (all recreation related), should work well – capitalizing on the wildland surroundings and majestic views of the mountains.
The Shepherd family long maintained that the land out there is very marginal farmland and that a more economically beneficial use would be to supplement their cattle operation with recreational/special events 18 days out of the year – summers, mainly. That way they wouldn’t be doing anything disruptive when the deer migrate through in the late fall and winter.
But Central Oregon Landwatch’s Paul Dewey, in earlier discussions, called the Shepherd’s project little more than a special events center located far out of town where it doesn’t belong. He also cited a number of project shortcomings, just about all of which the commissioners dismissed as not applicable.
As a result, no one will be surprised if Mr. Dewey’s group appeals the commission’s decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals in Salem.