CAP chair warns of ‘disaster’ without hemp moratorium

Marijuana is often hidden in many Oregon Dept. of Ag permitted “hemp” grows as seen in October 2019.
(Photo by Laura Mancuso, Illinois Valley News)

It’s been over a week since news broke that the Oregon Department of Agriculture would not be granting an extension to the moratorium on new hemp licensing in Josephine County, asserting that the county missed the filing deadline to do so.
The Board of Josephine County Commissioners had voted in November to extend the moratorium through the end of 2023.
On Feb. 8 at the commissioners’ meeting at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass, JoCo Cannabis Advisory Panel Chair Amanda Metzler reacted to the news, warning that she sees a “disaster on the horizon” without the moratorium in place.
According to Metzler, CAP had convened the previous day for their monthly meeting.
“To say we are disappointed is an understatement,” Metzler said.
“Without the continuation of the hemp moratorium, we are back to 2020 with the floodgates open again and hemp permits allowing the cover for illegal grows. The thought of this sent shivers down my spine and it should yours as well.”
Metzler asked the board to “exhaust all of your contacts and political capital to fix this problem,” adding that she feels this is a “deciding moment” for them.
“Allowing hemp permits, AKA illegal grow covers, to be issued in 2023 will forever change the course of Josephine County,” Metzler predicted. “It will forever affect public safety, the waterways and the economic development of the county. Because for the economic viability of the county and the businesses that operate here, we need to be safe and the local government needs to be operating effectively.”
Commissioner Dan DeYoung thanked Metzler for her feedback, saying, “You and I have worked together for six years on this plus and I’ve always found you to be very honest, which, it’s sometimes hard to get an honest answer out of that industry, but you’ve been very square with us and I appreciate that.”
DeYoung added, “The frustration is ours also.
“We don’t pass ordinances and then expect them to go to the wrong place at the wrong time… We’re going to get to the bottom of that and I hope it has a positive result.”
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger said he is “very disturbed” about the hemp moratorium expiring.
“I’ve had multiple conversations with the director of agriculture,” he claimed, adding that he tried to work something out but Oregon’s attorney general stepped in and prevented the moratorium expiration from being overturned.
“So now we’re stuck,” the board chair confessed. “I’m very frustrated.”