Jackson County pot regulations in limbo

With the Oregon Legislature still adjusting marijuana laws, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners is delaying the adoption of county regulations on pot.

"There are fairly significant questions being looked at by the Legislature," said Commissioner Rick Dyer. "I would feel more comfortable waiting."

Commissioners debated Wednesday and Thursday over what local laws to adopt, but they aren't moving yet to put new regulations into effect.

Oregon voters legalized marijuana in 2014, but state regulations are still being finalized.

The Legislature is meeting in a short session this year that is expected to wrap up in early March.

One of the hot-button marijuana issues legislators hope to address is the conflict between the state's long-standing right-to-farm law that protects farmers, and a more recently passed state law that gives local jurisdictions the authority to put a variety of restrictions on marijuana growers.

The conflict between the two laws could be a source of numerous lawsuits, especially if growers who are barred from farming by new local regulations fight back in court, citing right-to-farm protections.

Jackson County commissioners have been able to hash out some local regulations they plan to adopt.

"A lot of people out there want to know what the heck Jackson County is going to do," Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said.

Commissioners agreed marijuana growers will have to use water they acquire through legal sources, such as from water rights or water they pay to have trucked in to land that lacks legal irrigation. Neighbors have voiced fears that marijuana growers illegally using domestic well water on crops could cause wells to run low or dry up.

The most contentious proposed local regulation — buffers to separate commercial marijuana grows from neighboring property — remains unresolved, with the three commissioners so far unable to reach a compromise on whether to have buffers or what width they should be.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

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