Officials: Pot farmers have ‘right to farm’

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon law that protects the customary farming practices of producers of grains, vegetables, fruits and livestock makes it hard to pass nuisance laws against marijuana grows, Jackson County officials say.

The southern Oregon county officials have been fielding complaints about traffic and noise from marijuana gardens and about the skunky smell of maturing pot plants.

The commissioners are considering the impact of new state legislation on medical marijuana dispensaries, which could increase the number of grow sites, the Medford Mail Tribune (http://bit.ly/1qaLkwW) reports.

Any attempt to impose restrictions on pot farming would also affect other kinds of crops and collide with Oregon’s strong “right-to-farm” law, county Administrator Danny Jordan said.

Onion farmers, for example, have a pungent crop come harvest time. Regulations about lights could affect wheat farmers working their fields after sundown.

“Anyone who decides to do it will be in pretty drawn-out litigation,” Jordan said.

The right-to-farm legislation is designed to protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits, especially those from people who move into the countryside and object to the smells, dust and sounds of farming. The terms of such laws vary from state to state, but they are widespread.

Some residents are concerned that marijuana grow sites will devalue their property, Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said. “At what point do we say we have to do something?” he asked.

The Oregon Legislature has approved regulations aimed at putting medical marijuana dispensaries on a legal footing after years in which they operated in a legal gray area.

Many cities and counties objected, and lawmakers allowed local jurisdictions to impose moratoriums of up to a year. Many have done so, including Jackson County.

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