BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Deschutes County commissioners on Monday afternoon reviewed a marijuana “opt-out” measure they are sending to the November ballot that would ban recreational marijuana-growing and processing operations in unincorporated areas of the county.

County commissioners imposed a moratorium on new applications for rural marijuana growing or processing facilities last year, until residents could vote on the opt-out proposal this November.

Recent years have seen numerous land-use fights over proposed operations, as some neighbors have said they harmed their rural quality of life in various ways.

Existing marijuana businesses, as well as those within cities and medical marijuana, would not be affected, if voters opt out of allowing more such operations.

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals overturned Deschutes County commissioners’ denial of a marijuana production facility east of Bend last year.

“After many controversial applications, hearings and decisions, the Deschutes County (commissioners) adopted the ordinance,” Commissioner Phil Henderson said Monday.

The opt-out proposal is in response to an appeal the Deschutes County Farm Bureau filed with the state Land Use Board of Appeals regarding what it considers too restrictive rules about marijuana production in the rural county. It’s noted the operations come under “right to farm” regulations.

“We’re basically the only one in the state in this scenario,” Commissioner Tony DeBone said.

Other counties opted out of allowing permits for marijuana businesses after it was legalized in 2014. Deschutes County legalized marijuana in 2016, and it is the only county reversing its decision.

The county officials said they hope allowing voters to opt out will ease the concerns of rural residents who are against growing recreational marijuana.

County commissioners are expected to finalize the proposed ballot measure Wednesday.


By Rhea Panela for