By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
An initiative petition has been filed in Jackson County, Oregon, that will allow cannabis grows to operate on Rural Residential properties. On June 14, 2017, the county approved the petition and title for signature gathering which was filed by Sandy Diesel of Right To Grow, U.S.A. The group needs to collect 4,956 valid signatures before the August 7 deadline for inclusion in the 2017 general election on November 7th.
“The initiative is in response to the county’s discrimination against farmers and to try to prevent future discrimination,” Diesel told Oregon Cannabis Connection (OCC). “The initiative makes it so they can’t say we can’t grow cannabis on RR if they aren’t saying, for example, that we can’t grow lavender.”
They hope to gather 10,000 signatures to account for duplicates and invalid signatures that are inevitably collected by petitioners with every initiative. They have organized a meeting at 2:00pm on Friday, June 16, at the Medford Library where they will give instructions and provid training on signature gathering.
“We are doing this to protect farmers and agriculture in Jackson County in response to the counties unfair discrimination against Cannabis,” explained Diesel, who formed the activist group last year to fight the changes that have affected thousands of medical marijuana growers across the state and especially in Southern Oregon.
Jackson County has been slow to issue Land Use Compatibility Statements (LUCS) for any Rural Residentially (RR) zoned properties, claiming its not a approved use of RR land to have a commercial marijuana grow. Since the county ignored zoning requirements for many years until Measure 91 passed in 2014, many growers who were already participating in the medical marijuana program have now been shut out.
The initiative does not mention cannabis and intends to protect all RR endeavors to grow non-gmo crops for resale with a broad proposal. The petition is a simple question, “Shall non-genetically modified crops in unincorporated Jackson County be equally protected from crop specific regulations, restrictions, and licenses?”
The petition summary states:
“Unincorporated areas of Jackson County sustain farming and agricultural businesses. If approved, the measure would prevent the adoption of regulations, restrictions, or licenses on growing of any specific non-genetically modified crops in unincorporated Jackson County. The measure would require any adopted regulation, restriction, or license to apply equally to the growing of all types of non-genetically modified crops. The measure would not restrict the ability to adopt any regulation, restrictions, or license for genetically modified crops through the initiative, referendum, or referral process.”
The initiative would also protect anyone farming on their RR land, including many small farmers that sell directly to the public through farm stands and farmers markets in the County. They have also been affected by the LUCS process the county has chosen to enforce.
To help in their efforts, visit the Right to Grow Facebook page to sign up (it’s a private page). A copy of their petition and approval letter from the Jackson County Clerk are below.