Lincoln County Commissioners this week adopted regulations on how retail marijuana will be grown, processed and sold in the unincorporated areas of the county. That’s all the lands in the county outside all city limits. So that’s outside the city limits of Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Toledo, Siletz, Newport, Waldport and Yachats. All the cities have their own rules.
The county rules are similar to the city rules but the one major difference is where in the county retail marijuana can be grown outside. Permissible zones that allow marijuana growing are in typical farming areas – Agriculture Conservation and Timber Conservation and a little bit of Industrial at South Beach.
The stickler on farm lands is that anyone who wants to grow marijuana outside must have at least a 20 acre parcel and the plants cannot be grown within 500 feet of a neighboring residence – to compensate for any odors. There was a lot of debate whether it ought to be a greater distance, like 1000 feet, but it was pointed out that a side on a square 20 acre parcel is about 1,000 feet so Commissioner Terry Thompson said he’d go along with a 500 foot buffer. Commission Chair Doug Hunt wanted 1,000 feet – Commissioner Hall settled for 500 and that’s how the vote went – 2-1 for the 500 foot buffer. Planning Director Onno Husing said the regulations may hold steady for a time, but if the next legislative session produces changes, those changes will have to be reconciled at the county and city level. So this isn’t likely to be the last bite of the apple.
Applications for retail marijuana growing, processing and sales opens January 4th. Until all the regulations are finalized, medical marijuana dispensaries will continue to sell both medical and retail marijuana until sometime later in the year when the OLCC and OHA agencies separate out retail from medical. There is no small amount of speculation that the medical marijuana dispensaries will switch over to retail by the end of the year. Medical marijuana card holders would then simply buy their tax free cannabis from a retailer.