Pubdate: Wed, 09 Dec 2015
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit


We don't see a lot to take issue with in Jackson County's proposed 
rules for growing and processing marijuana. There are no doubt a few 
tweaks that could be made, but in general it appears the rules would 
allow ample growing while providing some protection for neighbors.

The proposal would establish mandatory buffers between neighbors and 
the crops - which are notoriously malodorous near harvest time - and 
require growers to have legal water rights. It also establishes the 
size and type of structures that may be built for processing, as well 
as regulations on nighttime lighting and odor filtration systems for 
indoor operations. And it sets up no-grow zones near schools, parks 
and a few other sites.

The biggest sticking point in a Dec. 3 public hearing was the 
buffers. Advocates for growers said requiring a 250-foot separation 
from neighboring property lines would severely limit many property 
owners, some of whom have long narrow lots. One woman said it would 
prevent her from growing marijuana on her 2-acre property.

There undoubtedly will be some adversely affected by the rules - just 
as there have been rural property owners affected for as long as 
land-use rules have existed. But planners should keep their eyes on 
the larger goals of allowing marijuana crops in appropriate locations 
while providing neighbors with at least minimal protection.

We agree that requiring a buffer from a neighbor's unoccupied 
property makes little sense and suggest the rules should be amended 
to specify a minimum separation from nearby dwellings. The property 
line has no nose; the protection should be for people living on the 
neighboring sites.

There have been concerns expressed that some marijuana growers are 
illegally tapping water sources to slake their plants' considerable 
thirst. Given current and ongoing water concerns, it is inarguable 
that marijuana farmers must follow existing water law. It is equally 
reasonable to expect them to meet modified building standards for any 
processing facilities built on rural lands.

Marijuana farmers may demand that they be given the protections of 
Oregon's right-to-farm laws, which essentially say that any legal 
farming practice on agricultural land cannot be blocked unless it 
damages a neighbor's crop or property. They could win that argument, 
but it could prove to be a pyrrhic victory. While it seems marijuana 
legalization will continue to roll forward, if it affects the quality 
of life for others, it will face a much rockier path.

Farmers have at times found themselves limited by neighbors, who move 
in next to an operation and then complain about the noise or smell. 
This is the reverse of that situation, with the residential neighbors 
staking first claim and the farmers coming in behind them with a new 
and problematic crop. It makes sense for the county to set boundaries 
to protect both - and the marijuana growers who take the long view in 
this process will recognize that.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom