Remember when you were young and found yourself winning when the odds were against you? You were so happy because everything was going your way. But then it happens: the rules are changed by the older kids to ensure you can’t win. Those life lessons don’t stop as we get older. After two years, a lot of money and a 59-page approval by a hearings officer, the Deschutes County Commissioners denied my retail cannabis application.
The Deschutes County (Oregon) Board of Commissioners is made up of three people. Two of the commissioners are anti-cannabis and have taken their personal beliefs into the deliberations. The hearing officer’s approval was appealed by one individual and sent to the commissioners for deliberation. During this appeal process, my application brought to light a benefit and feature for the commissioners to address the black-market problem in our county. I was providing a major tool for battling illegal grows in unincorporated Deschutes County by means of delivery. To date, our county has one retail approval with zero delivery service. There are more than 34 grow facilities with no retail to support them. No delivery means residents of our county would rather buy illegal product than drive upwards of an hour to the nearest dispensary. The black market is thriving because of this lack of supply.
Two of the commissioners — Phil Henderson and Patti Adair, the chair and co-chair, respectively — seemingly vote in lockstep with Henderson’s wishes. During the review process, Commissioner Anthony DeBone said he would not participate in the deliberations if the other two commissioners were going to look for a reason to deny the application and went on to say it was “black and white … it’s been approved” and cited the 59-page hearing examiner decision to support the vote. He said this, by the way, after the first of 11 points of deliberation.
I was not present at the deliberations because I couldn’t make any statements in my defense, so my lawyer and I opted not to attend. I’m glad we didn’t because it gave Henderson the freedom to speak his mind. A few minutes after DeBone’s statement about the pair looking for a reason to deny, Henderson went on record to compare my application as, “I think of it more like, uh … a strip club going into your neighborhood …” And this is a guy who graduated from Yale University. Just like that, my application was denied 2-1.
Some people don’t think their vote or voice matters, but I found myself with the rules changing right under my feet because of the 2018 elections. We have the option to appeal the application to the land use board of appeals at the state level. I am confident they will overturn the decision, but what a waste of time and money because of two ill-informed and biased individuals.
Finally, don’t think the outlier was a Democrat fighting two Republicans; DeBone is a Republican trying to talk some common sense into two other Republicans who have fallen off the deep end of Reefer Madness.
I posted a short clip of the proceedings on YouTube, if you are interested:
The miracle is in the greens.