Deschutes County Files Appeals in Two Pot Farm Cases | Smoke Signals | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Culture » Smoke Signals

Deschutes County Files Appeals in Two Pot Farm Cases

The saga of the Youth Activity Center continues



Deschutes County is asking the Oregon Court of Appeals to take another look at two cases in which it denied permits to proposed marijuana farms in the rural county.

In August, the state's Land Use Board of Appeals ruled against the County, after the County denied two separate applications aiming to build indoor marijuana-growing facilities on Exclusive Farm Use land in the rural county.

  • Pixabay

The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners denied the applications by Tommy Nehmzow and Waveseer of Oregon, stating that in both cases, the farms would be located adjacent to a "Youth Activity Center," a term mentioned, but not defined in Deschutes County marijuana regulations at the time. County staff had already approved the applications when commissioners ruled against them.

In the Waveseer case, the proposed grow site—which would have been an indoor grow, per current regulations—was adjacent to Rhinestone Ranch, an equine facility that hosts 4-H activities. In the Nehmzow case, the land slated for the indoor marijuana facility is adjacent to Sundance Meadows, a "recreational community" that includes temporary residences and recreational amenities.

Among its reasons for denying the County's appeals, LUBA ruled that Deschutes County didn't have a codified definition of what constituted a Youth Activity Center before the applications were submitted. Following a remand from LUBA in the Waveseer case, which stated that the County should define what a YAC entails, the County appealed, stating it had subsequently named 10 criteria by which a YAC could be defined.

On Aug. 10., LUBA issued final opinions and orders in both cases, saying, among other arguments in favor of the prospective farmers, that because the County did not have the YAC definitions in place before the applicants submitted their applications, the applicants could not be expected to know what might have prevented from using that EFU land for marijuana production. County commissioners attempted to impose rules on the prospective farms after the prospective farmers submitted their applications, LUBA explained.

Following the LUBA decisions, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners made the decision to appeal, explained Adam Smith, Deschutes County's counsel in the cases.

Opt-out ahead

Meanwhile, voters in Deschutes County will vote in November whether to impose an "opt-out" on future marijuana farms in the county. If voters vote in favor of the opt out, no new marijuana farms would be able to move forward. The opt-out would not impose a ban on hemp farms in the county, however. Following the enactment of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, hemp is not a controlled substance, like marijuana. In Deschutes County, farms growing cannabis plants (the ones typically seen outdoors in many parts of rural Deschutes County) are of the non-psychoactive hemp variety, not the psychoactive marijuana variety.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.

Add a comment

More by Nicole Vulcan