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Field of drying hemp in Bend causes a stink


Hemp production in Deschutes County is causing a smell that’s upsetting neighbors. Specifically, there’s a small field off of Cooley Road in Bend where, right now, pounds of hemp are out drying in the High Desert sun.

Stan Stone lives right next to that field. He is not happy about it.

“The smell is terrible, it gives (me and my wife) headaches and dry throats,” Stone said Monday.

Stone said the hemp appeared on that field just last week. At first, he said, he thought the strong smell was coming from a skunk.

“I was astonished to find this pile of, I thought, marijuana,” Stone said. “So I called the (Deschutes County) Sheriff’s (Office).” Deputies later confirmed that the field was hemp, not marijuana, and was legally allowed to be there.

Legal or not, Stone wants it gone from his neighborhood.

“I hope they remove it — the smell is terrible,” Stone said. “I think we should have some right whether or not we’re subjected to this ugly smell.”

Stone is actively pursuing the field’s removal.

He thinks if a company wants to dry hemp in a residential neighborhood, it should have to be approved by the people who live there.

The hemp in question belongs to the USA Hemp Company, based out of Molalla.

Rafael Redwood, the company’s co-founder and director of operations, said hemp is already strictly regulated and giving veto power to neighborhoods is a slippery slope.

“The problem with allowing neighbors to regulate us is, essentially, it says they’re going to control whether or not we make a living.” Redwood said.

“The solution,” he proposed, “would be more on the side of educating the public — understanding the benefits of hemp and the deep historical ties it has to us as a civilization.”

If you’re asking why a Molalla company is drying out their hemp in Deschutes County, the answer is simple.

Redwood explained that drying hemp in the Willamette Valley is difficult because it rains too much.

Here on the High Desert, that’s not a problem.

“I can’t comment for sure on whether or not the odor causes any headaches,” Redwood said. “However, those plants had to stay out in the field for months before we harvested them, and we’ve never had a complaint to this day.”

Until now.

The field used to be a pasture for horse hay. Redwood said their goal is not to upset anybody and they are just trying to grow their crop and live off of the land.

He also said the hemp is only there temporarily. It’ll be gone in a few weeks.

There’s a stigma surrounding hemp because of its relation to marijuana — an unfair one, its supporters say. Hemp looks and smells like marijuana but it has no psychoactive effects.

Despite their similarities, the regulation of hemp and marijuana is completely different.

Stone went to Deschutes County officials, searching for information on how to get rid of the hemp field in his neighborhood.

The problem is, the county doesn’t regulate hemp. At all.

Hemp is an industrial crop, and therefore, it’s regulated through the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

County Commissioner Tammy Baney explained it all comes down to the lingo.

“There is recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp.” Barney said. “Hemp is allowed to be grown in Deschutes County without coming in to the county for a permit. The county does not have specific regulations for hemp grows.”

Marijuana, meanwhile, is classified as a Schedule I drug and the county does have jurisdiction over its regulations.

“We have no control over the smell of hemp, which is the same (as marijuana),” Baney said. “So as hemp grows come online, individuals who are impacted by that smell will be living in an agricultural area that will be affording those types of smells.”

“Being able to enforce the odor regulations that we are putting forward, I think will get more challenging as the years go by,” she added.

If anyone wants to submit a complaint about hemp, they would have to appeal to the Oregon Department of Agriculture directly.

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