Proposed Alfalfa marijuana farm expansion causes stir

Residents team up, appeal approval

Proposed pot farm expansion causes stir in Alfalfa

BEND, Ore. - (Update/correction: Not lawsuit but land-use appeal)

Officials and concerned residents argued Wednesday about the expansion of a marijuana farm in Alfalfa.

The Deschutes County commissioners' public hearing lasted over four hours, with several passionate arguments from officials, neighbors of the pot farm and community activists.

One of the neighbors appealed the county's approval of the expansion of this farm from the two greenhouses to five, citing grievances  like smell, noise, and most importantly, water.

Several people testified that the rural community is already struggling to provide enough water to its citizens without having to provide for marijuana farms. One neighbor said thinks the legalization of marijuana in the state disproportionately affects people like him.

"A lot of us were kind of, so to speak, suckered into this," next-door neighbor William Tye said. "We thought we were voting for recreational marijuana -- people could use it legally. But we didn't know that there was going to be these large marijuana operations out in our little community."

Tye's neighbor lives directly west of the farm and said the winds make it so he does not have to smell the products often. But he's still not keen on the idea of sharing a land border with the facility.

"I voted for the pot," neighbor Tom Moore said. "I don't care if people smoke it, it doesn't bother me. But I didn't really want a pot farm next to my house."

NewsChannel 21 reached out to proponents of the expansion, but no one would go on camera. But, in their arguments, they said only organic materials are used at the farm, so the environment will not be harmed.

In response to community activists' appeals to marijuana negatively impacting youth, proponents also pointed out that during several sting operations, Central Oregon dispensaries didn't serve a minor. Another point: Teen marijuana usage and opioid use has dropped in states that legalized the drug.

County commissioners expect to decide on the appeal of the marijuana operation expansion by the end of February.

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