Ahead of the November 2018 election, then-candidate Patti Adair ran for Deschutes County Commissioner on two key platforms: Fiscal conservativism and being anti-marijuana. Since winning that election—by a narrow margin—and serving on the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners, she's held true to being against marijuana growing in the county. On being a fiscal conservative, however, we have to call her bluff.
Adair and her fellow commissioners have now been part of two lengthy battles to shut down legal marijuana in Deschutes County. They're costing the County's taxpayers thousands of dollars in staff time fighting something that voters in this county, and those across the state, have already deemed to be an industry worth investing in and supporting.
As our Smoke Signals column this week details, the Commission has already been at odds with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals over what have been characterized as new time, place and manner regulations that would be the most stringent in the state. Couple that with the Commissioners' recent decision to put a measure on next year's ballot, asking local voters whether they want to "opt out" of allowing more marijuana farms and/or production facilities in the county, and we're talking about significant amounts of our tax dollars going toward fighting something that voters already said they want. This has become a Commission that, regardless of the cost, is now arbitrarily choosing to delve into social or lifestyle issues, rather than sticking to interpreting the letter of the law.
We agree wholeheartedly with the local Farm Bureau, which has argued that landowners wanting to farm on designated farm land should be able to do so. If you buy property in a farm zone, expect agriculture—whether that farm raises pigs or pot.
If the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners wants to cater to the vocal county residents who have flooded their meetings, begging for an opt out, the commissioners should encourage those residents to take the time to gather signatures and get the issue on the ballot themselves. Using county resources and staff time to bring this issue to voters just a few years after they already decided it is a waste of taxpayer money and continues to increase friction and animosity that local government could be working to abate.
In a region that continues to grow, allocating more resources to manage mental health services—to name just one issue more important than this one—would be a better use of county funds.