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County firms up position on MJ

County firming up policy banning pot at fairgrounds, parks

By Shaun Hall of the Daily Courier

 

If you want to toke, do it someplace other than at a park or the fairgrounds, Josephine County officials say.

A few times a year, county employees come across people consuming or even handing out marijuana on county property, including during events at parks and the fairgrounds, the Board of Commissioners was told this week.

Commissioners met with parks director Sarah Wright and fairgrounds manager Peggy Anderson to come up with directives for park users and event promoters. A written policy concerning marijuana on county property has been drafted, with a final version expected to be adopted by commissioners in two weeks.

Oregon voters in 2014 passed Measure 91, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for persons at least 21 years of age. The law restricts use to homes and other private places, however.

The policy now under consideration by the county is aimed in part at giving managers direction about what to do when someone chooses to consume on county property.

In an effort to ward off problems before they occur, Wright would like event promoters to advertise that marijuana is not allowed in parks, which she considers to be "marijuana-free zones." She'd also like signs at events to say drugs aren't welcome.

And if there are violations, she would like event organizers to take care of the problem themselves. If not, the event might not be allowed to return. Or the event promoter might forfeit a bond.

"Put it away," Wright said. "It's not allowed."

That includes edible marijuana. And it includes smoking in an RV or tent, too, per state law.

"Most people are great," Wright said. "It's just the few that kind of don't care."

Wright remembers the time someone fired up a big bong at Fish Hatchery Park. And last year, a vendor at a festival at Lake Selmac opened up the back of his van to offer small marijuana plants to passers-by.

Anderson said a band at the fairgrounds one time actually tossed marijuana to the crowd. That band won't be asked back.

And recently, a gardening group asked if it's OK for vendors at an upcoming garden fair at the fairgrounds to display things related to marijuana production, including marijuana trimming equipment.

Equipment is fine; marijuana is not.

"They just can't have the product," Commissioner Simon Hare said.