A prohibition against growing marijuana within 1,000 feet of youth activity centers in Oregon's Deschutes County was ruled unlawfully vague, but the county has implemented a broader ban on new marijuana operations.

A prohibition against marijuana cultivation near “youth activity centers” in Oregon’s Deschutes County is unlawfully vague, according to an appellate court decision.

The impact of the Oregon Court of Appeals ruling is limited, however, because the “youth activity center” restriction has been eclipsed by a total ban against new marijuana farms in the county.

Last summer, the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals ordered the county to approve two applications to commercially grow marijuana, which had been rejected because they’re within 1,000 feet of properties that offer horseback riding classes, 4-H agricultural activities and other amenities for children.

According to LUBA, the county’s definition of youth activity center is so “impermissibly indefinite” that it “could encompass any swimming pool or basketball court where children play.”

The county’s 10-factor test for what qualifies as a youth activity center “fails to sufficiently inform interested parties of the basis on which an application may be approved or denied,” contrary to Oregon law, LUBA said.

The Oregon Court of Appeals has now agreed that the “10-factor checklist analysis is not in any way signaled by the provisions of the Deschutes County Code,” which must explain what’s considered a youth activity center.

“The case-by-case approach as articulated by the county appears largely discretionary and standardless at this juncture, and, in all events, nothing in the provisions of the code signals the notion of a 10-factor analysis, let alone the particular 10 factors identified by the county as relevant,” the appellate court ruling said.

While the Court of Appeals ruling favors Waveseer of Oregon and Tommy Nehmzow — the two marijuana applicants who challenged the youth activity center buffer — it won’t benefit other aspiring marijuana producers in the county.

In last November’s general election, nearly 58% of Deschutes County voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed additional marijuana growing and processing sites in the county.

Opponents of the measure claimed that marijuana facilities have disrupted rural areas with loud fans, grow lights, unpleasant smells, more traffic and increased groundwater usage.

I've been working at Capital Press since 2006 and I primarily cover legislative, regulatory and legal issues.

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