Skip to Content

Deschutes rural marijuana foes fire back over survey

KTVZ

One day after supporters of marijuana growing and processing in rural Deschutes County released a poll indicating majority support for “sensible” rules and not a fall “opt out” vote, opponents of allowing such operations issued a refutation Thursday and made their case.

The Oregon Cannabis Association had said that “By a 2-1 ratio, Deschutes County voters say county commissioners should establish reasonable regulations for marijuana businesses to operate in rural and unincorporated areas rather than refer another legalization measure to the November ballot.”

Below is the full news release from “Preserve Rural Deschutes,” followed by the original news release, issued ahead of Monday’s Deschutes County commissioners hearings and a possible decision next Wednesday:

PreserveRuralDeschutes.org, a local citizen group advocating for continued opt out until the November ballot of commercial marijuana production, processing, retailing and wholesaling in Deschutes County, considers the marijuana industry’s recent survey to be an exercise in elaborate fiction concocted by that industry.

Any survey paid for by local marijuana businesses, conducted on behalf of the Oregon Cannabis Association and completed by a California polling firm that has frequently been hired by the marijuana industry to push their agenda of legalizing marijuana in states across the country must be met with suspicion.

The questions asked of the respondents were not included in the article, which is a critical element in determining validity of the results. Questions can be written or asked in a very leading manner, often leaving the person answering little choice but to agree or disagree as intended by the research firm.

The published review of the survey did not include how the 400 respondents were selected, nor did it include the number of people who refused to participate in the poll before a sample size of 400 was secured.

Also not included was a breakdown of the number of residents participating in the poll who live within city boundaries versus those who live in the rural county. As well, information on home owners versus renters was omitted.

While Preserve Rural Deschutes is also in favor of strong regulations for the marijuana industry intent on producing a federally illegal, high-value, cash-based product in rural Deschutes County, the group also believes the voters have a right to understand this complicated issue and vote on whether they approve numerous large commercial marijuana production sites in rural residential neighborhoods.

Measure 91’s ballot language did not specify when and how marijuana can be grown commercially, effectively disfranchising voters from this very important decision. Those specifics were included in House Bill 3400 (HB3400) introduced and passed by Oregon’s state lawmakers in 2015 without substantive input by rural residents around the state. HB3400 included a section that defined marijuana as a crop for farm use and farming purposes.

Because Oregon is a Right to Farm (RTF) state, farming practices are protected from nuisance and trespass issues including complaints against noise, odors, smoke, dust and use of pesticides.

By declaring marijuana is a crop, Oregon lawmakers have effectively shielded large, commercial marijuana producers from being responsible neighbors in our rural residential areas while removing all remedy options for existing residents.

Preserve Rural Deschutes recognizes adults’ right to use marijuana for recreational and medical purposes as passed by Oregon voters in Measure 91. The efforts of this citizen group do not intend to change or modify the right of people over 21 years of age to use, consume or possess marijuana.

Rather, Preserve Rural Deschutes wants to educate county voters and ensure rural property owners and residents are aware of the risks associated with large commercial marijuana production operations such as:

-Increased crime in pursuit of a cash-based product selling for $2,000 per pound
– Heightened risk of explosions and fires when marijuana is processed into hash using butane
– Degraded insurance ratings and increased premiums to counter fire and burglary risks
– Pervasive skunk odor that travels thousands of feet on prevailing winds
– Unsightly 8-foot perimeter fences topped with razor wire protecting outdoor marijuana fields of up to 40,000 square feet (about the size of a football field)
– Required “No Trespassing” signs posted on marijuana production sites detracting from the neighborliness of rural neighborhoods.
– Lowered water tables as water is redirected to water-thirsty marijuana plants
– Increased interference of dark skies from transparent greenhouses glowing at night to promote bud growth
– Irreversible changes to Deschutes County’s rural lands as 10,000 square foot greenhouses are constructed
– Departure of current residents from and reluctance of new residents to move to the county
– Contribution to an already saturated marijuana market in Oregon that is selling the product online or shipping it out of state, both illegal activities at the state and federal levels.

Preserve Rural Deschutes applauds Deschutes County Commissioners for taking a reasoned and cautious approach to marijuana business rollout. Giving voters their previously denied right to vote on how, when and where marijuana sites can open for business in this county is the mission of PreserveRuralDeschutes.org.

The rest of the Oregon Cannabis Association news release:

The telephone survey conducted for the Oregon Cannabis Association by the public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates also found that support for Measure 91 has grown in Deschutes County since voters approved the measure legalizing and regulating marijuana in 2014.

“Deschutes County voters have a clear message for county commissioners: it’s time to implement the will of the voters and enact sensible rules to regulate marijuana businesses,” said Amy Margolis, who represents the Oregon Cannabis Association, a statewide professional association representing the cannabis business community.

The survey was paid for by local cannabis farmers, processors and retailers. It was conducted April 21-24 involving 400 phone interviews, both landlines and cellphones, with likely November voters. The group said the margin of sampling error was 4.9 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Last winter, county commissioners passed what they called a “temporary opt-out” banning cannabis businesses in unincorporated portions of the county and appointed a committee to review draft land use regulations proposed by the county planning commission.

A 13-member marijuana advisory committee, which included four local cannabis business representatives along with other local farmers and rural residents, met from February through early April to develop recommendations that were presented to the commissioners Wednesday.

“The committee reached consensus on many issues, including regulations to mitigate light, sound and odor from marijuana cultivation on land zoned for exclusive farm use,” said committee member Lindsey Pate, who produces award-winning medical cannabis on her small family farm near Terrebonne.

“We want to be good neighbors and provide family-wage jobs in rural Deschutes County. We embrace sensible regulations that protect the way of life we all treasure in Central Oregon. “

Many rural county residents have opposed allowing marijuana growing and processing in the area, citing issues of lighting, odors, noise, traffic and security concerns, among others.

County commissioners will hold two public hearings next Monday and are scheduled to decide two days later whether to rescind their opt-out ordinance, or place the question on the November ballot.

“Deschutes County has conducted an extensive public process over the last nine months to develop its regulations,” Margolis said. “Today’s poll clearly shows that the last thing voters in Deschutes County want is to be forced into a costly and divisive ‘do-over’ on Measure 91. County commissioners should move forward now to end the uncertainty for businesses and the community by putting regulations in place.”

Details about the survey can be found at this Adobe Acrobat file: http://orcannabisassociation.org/s/220-4493-Deschutes-County-Survey-Summary-Memo.pdf

KTVZ News Team

Comments

Leave a Reply

Skip to content