Josephine County proposes new cannabis restrictions, despite concern from industry
The Josephine County Board of Commissioners moved ahead with the first reading of ordinance 005 after hearing the community's concerns.
This ordinance deals with cannabis grown in rural residential zones of Josephine County.
The industry has thrived economically there, but has caused some conflict among neighbors.
Cannabis may have legal status in Josephine County, but the state of Oregon gives commissioners control over time, place, and manner of grows.
In rural residential zones, the county commissioners say they've received complaints from neighbors of growers, prompting a proposal to prohibit new growing operations in rural residential zones and to impose a 150 foot buffer between cannabis and the neighboring property.
Industry insiders say its unwarranted.
"It's basically going to ruin if not kill all the farms that have started a business there and become successful and tried to basically follow all the rules and be good neighbors," says Beau Green, a grower from Wolf Creek.
Other growers agree that the restrictions will harm production and profits.
"More regulation brings more problems to the industry," says Dustin Brandon, another industry insider. "The industry was built off of family farms. Don't get me wrong, it's going to go corporate. It's going corporate. But you can't knock out the people who started this business."
But those who live next to the farms say the problem isn't that their neighbors are growing cannabis, it's that the grows impact their way of life, and they say imposing a buffer could be a good solution.
"That isn't an unreasonable amount," says Merlin resident Belinda Blauer. "They're saying it's going to cost them money to move their grow. It's going to cost me money to leave my property so it's going to have quiet, clean air, and the lifestyle i moved here for 26 years ago."
County commissioner Lily Morgan says the ordinance simply brings cannabis up to par with other industries' restrictions.
"Any other business that happens in rural residential has to get a home occupation permit, has to be evaluated by how they impact the neighbors," says Morgan. "This is the one industry that's not doing that."
The county commissioners will revisit the ordinance for a second reading at the end of the month.