BEND, Ore. - More than five months after expressing "grave concerns" about Deschutes County's plans to toughen its 2-year-old marijuana rules and three months after they were adopted, the Deschutes County Farm Bureau and several cannabis businesses have appealed the regulations to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
The farm bureau and its co-petitioners claim the new county rules, adopted amid a host of appeals by neighbors of proposed rural facilities, exceed what Oregon lawmakers have allowed as "reasonable" restrictions on the time, place and manner of marijuana production and processing.
Others listed among plaintiffs include firms such as Central Oregon Industry, doing business as Celebrate Cannabis Inc., also a nonprofit, as well as Happy Harvesting LLC, Cannabis Nation Inc. and four individuals.
The appeal claims the county exceeded its jurisdiction and lacks the authority to remove marijuana's protections as a legal farm crop under Oregon's Right to Farm Act, while "granting a nuisance and trespass right against marijuana producers."
The appellants claim the ordinance's restrictions are unreasonable because they demand "farm operations with zero impact (in terms of light, noise, odor, etc.)."
"The ordinance took the strictest marijuana regulations in Oregon and purposefully made them harsher to appease angry constituents," the petition stated. "The county sought to sacrifice a farm crop in favor of non-farm uses in EFU (exclusive farm use) lands."
The petition also claims "there were zero findings to support declaring an emergency" in adopting the ordinance, so that it would take effect immediately.
They also say supporters of the new limits on marijuana production and processing offered "only speculation, unsubstantiated complaints and the commissioners' manifest prejudice to support them. The county ignored the facts to appease grumblings."
"The ordinance violates the U.S. and Oregon Constitution and must be struck down," they argue. "Marijuana growers face unreasonable regulations not suffered by other county farmers or other marijuana growers outside the county."
"Forcing marijuana producers and processors to waive constitutional rights against unlawful searches and seizures is demonstrably unnecessary and ... designed to harass, not enforce," they wrote.
The original county marijuana regulations, adopted in 2016, already were "the strictest local regulations governing recreational marijuana in Oregon," the petition said, but the county agreed during the 2017 Oregon Legislature to re-evaluate those rules, "which it was warned were already too restrictive."
They noted the county dropped the multiple use -agriculture (MUA-10) zone from areas where marijuana can be produced and processed. It also increased and added setbacks and separation distances from lot lines, off-site dwellings and federal lands, also boosting the separation distance to 1,320 feet for all previously existing uses, parks and more.
For those and other reasons, the petitioners are asking LUBA to reverse the ordinance or send it back to the county for more work "in compliance with all applicable laws and constitutional provisions."
Deschutes County Farm Bureau President Matt Cyrus said the county has 30 days to respond, after which LUBA will schedule a hearing.