Growing marijuana has been prohibited in Oregon for decades now, but recreational cannabis is now legalized. Now, the people of Oregon have a tremendous problem to face: Where will new licensed farms, processing plants and retailers be allowed to operate? Prohibited in many parts of Oregon, recreational cannabis facilities have a large bunch of rapidly written local land-use laws in regions, such as Lane County, that are permitting them.

These laws are sometimes interpreted as too lenient by residents that have been living in Oregon for quite some time. These residents are not used to marijuana, so this is all coming as a sudden shock to them. Cannabis producers who wish to sell their products, on the other hand, wish to sell their products without any unhelpful demands from local residents or local officials. Last year, Cassie Heckenkamp and Jeff Smith bought out 19 acres of bucolic land off the McKenzie River east of Walterville for $920,000.

Supported by various investors, Smith and Heckenkamp’s plan was to commence a 5,000-square-foot indoor recreational cannabis facility as well as a 40,000-square-foot outdoor grow in a nearby 16-acre field that they have the chance to buy. They would live on the property, which is primarily surrounded by land and farms. However, less than two weeks later, the Lane County Board of Commissioners decided to prohibit any recreational cannabis cultivation on all land that is considered to be rural residential. The board spoke of worries about the plant’s smell and the crime rates that marijuana businesses will bring. Unfortunately for the couple, their land is considered rural residential. The board’s choice left them surprised and ruined their plans.

“I assumed that (the county) would be like Eugene,” says Heckenkamp. “Eugene has been very helpful in getting this industry off the ground. It just didn’t occur to me that the county would approach this this way.”


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