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S. Oregon residents worried about 'gold rush' for pot land

 

By VICKIE ALDOUS
Of the Mail Tribune

MEDFORD — Many residents in rural Jackson County say their peaceful way of life is being threatened by people grabbing up land for marijuana grows.

“We've got a little gold rush going on. People have their minds set on profit and getting fabulously rich,” said Rich Fairbanks, who lives in the Applegate Valley near a marijuana grow with plants as tall as small trees.

He said marijuana growers are buying up rural residential sites with water and power, displacing homebuyers and using up scarce well water.

“It's a perfect storm that has created a lot of tension and potential for violence in what used to be nice neighborhoods,” Fairbanks said.

Jim Reiland, who also lives in the Applegate Valley, said he and his neighbors are not personally opposed to the legalization of marijuana in Oregon. But the marijuana grows seem to be going in with little regulation or concern over impacts to the surrounding community.

“A lot of us have pretty significant plantations right next door,” he said.

During all of September and October, neighbors are putting up with skunk-like odors as the marijuana plants mature and become ready for harvest, Reiland said.

But worse than that, Reiland said marijuana growers have little regard for the community and long-time residents.

“Growers are not bad people, but they don't have the same commitment to the area,” he said. “They're just looking at it as an opportunity to make a boatload of money in a hurry. Their issue is getting it grown and getting it out.”

With Southern Oregon in a drought, many rural residents don't believe wells on rural residential and woodland resource lands should be tapped for high-intensity marijuana grows. They think marijuana growers should instead obtain legal water rights and use water from irrigation districts.

The residents are also worried about woodlands being cleared for marijuana plants, and they say grow lights and industrial fans are disturbing.

They have called on Jackson County officials to develop more regulations governing marijuana grows.

Rural resident Cathie Sabados said she lives within 100 yards of a medical marijuana grow. Cars come up and down the driveway at all hours of the day and night, flashing their lights and honking to be let into the grow site, which is guarded by eight to 10 dogs that bark constantly.

Shots have been fired at night and the grower family has shined a spotlight on her husband.

“They had the 5-year-old out planting one day,” Sabados said.

She and her husband feel they can no longer use their hot tub or host barbecues because the situation outdoors has become unbearable.

“We've actually put our house up for sale,” she said.

Several other neighbors, including those in Sams Valley and near Talent, said the smell of ripening marijuana is unbearable.

“The smell is outrageous. It's like having a skunk living under your house this time of year,” said Roland Kari.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/

Comments

scooter

What is comical is all the "issues" listed in the article are already in place to be regulated. Under OMMP/OHA no minors are suppose to be around the grow site, or involved in any aspect of cultivation.

Under Rec use 91 laws, no grow is suppose to take place in residential zone. EFU, Commercial, Industrial only. The need to produce doesn't trump water rights or the ability to be shut down by a water master.


It seems the author of this article & the long term residents haven't done their own homework on the regulations already in place. The real issue is the Jackson county has voted down any law enforment bond/levy that has been placed on the ballot ever since timber revenues dried up. Its not that you dont have laws in place, its that you have absoultly no one in place to enforce them. Its well documented over the last few years the only calls that get any manpower by LE is Class A felony person to person crimes. All property crimes, babysitting type offense, and the rest are set aside and glanced over. Even the Class A stuff has to be handled by the state funded OSP more then the local county due to lack in funding.

Mudstump

“We've got a little gold rush going on. People have their minds set on profit and getting fabulously rich,” said Rich Fairbanks.

“Growers are not bad people, but they don't have the same commitment to the area,” he said. “They're just looking at it as an opportunity to make a boatload of money in a hurry. Their issue is getting it grown and getting it out.”

You could say the same about grass seed farmers, hazelnut growers or any farmer for that matter. Everyone wants to make a profit. I live next to a large vineyard. There is always something going on over there and that is part of living in the country. People grow stuff by buying land, planting, using water and harvesting. If you live in or next to an area zoned EFU you should expect farming.

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