We are no longer drug criminals

Tone is contentious as public debates pot rules

Deschutes commission listens to four hours of testimony

By Ted Shorack / The Bulletin / @tjshorack

Published May 3, 2016 at 12:01AM / Updated May 3, 2016 at 05:30AM

Tensions rose at times Monday as Deschutes County commissioners held two public hearings about proposed marijuana regulations in unincorporated areas of the county.

Testimony offered by a newly appointed Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office captain and the offering of a marijuana flower bud by a Bend man to Commissioner Tammy Baney riled up opposing sides of the continually contentious issue.

The hearings were scheduled so the public could comment on recommendations recently proposed by an appointed county marijuana advisory committee.

Testimony lasted about four hours altogether during the morning and afternoon hearings.

Dozens commented on the need for county commissioners to adopt regulations and withdraw a ban implemented last year on recreational marijuana processors, growers, wholesalers and retailers as well as medical dispensaries and processors. The ban, or opt out, only applies in areas of the county outside city limits and could potentially be referred to voters in November.

A petition in favor of ending the ban and adopting regulations was presented to the Deschutes County Commission during the hearings. It was signed by 1,588 marijuana growers, dispensary owners, processors and other county residents.

“We respectfully request that you move swiftly to implement the will of the voters, end the increasingly harmful delay on licensing, and avoid a costly and divisive ‘do over’ ballot measure campaign,” the petition states.

Nearly 52 percent of county voters in November 2014 were in favor of Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana.

Many others spoke Monday about protecting their rural lifestyle and expressed ongoing concerns about lights from grow sites ruining dark, starry skies and greenhouses blocking mountain views. Others were concerned about crime increasing because of the presence of marijuana.

Capt. John Bocciolatt, who was appointed to his position last month, spoke on behalf of Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and himself at the second hearing.

“The proliferation of marijuana in this community will stretch the resources of the sheriff’s office,” he said.

Bocciolatt referenced his experience with the Portland Police Bureau and invoked concerns about Mexican drug cartels coming to the community if marijuana businesses are allowed by the county and said incidents of driving under the influence, domestic abuse, theft and burglary would increase. He did not cite specific evidence to support his statements.

The comments unsettled many in the crowd who began to demand Bocciolatt be cut off for going over the time limit. Each public commenter had been given up to three minutes to speak.

Commission Chairman Alan Unger asked the crowd to be quiet and said he was willing to give Bocciolatt more time.

Ron Boozell, more commonly known as Rondo, presented Baney with a dried marijuana bud at the end of a long, trimmed stem.

Monday was Baney’s birthday. Cake was served at the back of the meeting room during the hearings. The marijuana was handed over to sheriff’s office officials at the hearing for disposal. Boozell said he was not cited or arrested. He was cited for a similar incident in July at a Bend City Council meeting.

Patti Adair, who lives between Redmond and Sisters, told commissioners she was in favor of the ban being referred to voters in November.

A group of rural residents have often referred to the impacts to properties due to the smell of marijuana growing as well as the lighting. The 13-member marijuana advisory committee recently submitted a 50-page report to the County Commission that included recommendations on rules for lighting, odor and noise control in the exclusive farm use zone.

“I love the smell of alfalfa,” said Adair. “I grew up on a ranch. Alfalfa and pot are not the same.”

She added, “We really need to do something. We need to slow down to assess it. It’s such an impact.”

Marijuana was designated a crop in House Bill 3400. Oregon has a “right-to-farm” law that protects farmers from nuisance complaints that could lead to lawsuits. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed another bill that specified cities and counties could adopt “reasonable regulations” for pot.

Julie Austin, operations manager at Cascadia Labs, a company that tests the potency of marijuana in Bend and Portland, told commissioners that the facility provides a vital role to the legal market and is being hampered by the opt out.

“I think we need to implement these sensible and workable regulations as soon as possible,” Austin said.

She said she believes the county can come to an agreement on reasonable regulations that were recommended by the advisory committee.

Natalie Fehlberg, who lives in southeast Bend, said she worries there will not be enough oversight of marijuana businesses. The current ban — and the proposed rules — has no effect in the city of Bend.

“I do urge you to opt out of the production of recreational marijuana in Deschutes County because of its destructive effects,” she said.

Kieran Connolly-Ng, a product intake manager with the DiamondTree dispensaries in Bend, urged county commissioners to adopt the advisory committee’s regulations for light, noise and odor.

“Making this decision as soon as possible will help growers and other members of the community be able to come together to actually discuss the issues that we seem to be so divided on,” he said. “It seems that everyone is so polarized that we have a very difficult time meeting in the middle to actually have a discussion about things.”

County commissioners are scheduled to begin deliberating possible pot regulations 10 a.m. Wednesday. Unger said he doesn’t expect the commissioners will finish their discussion at that time.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, tshorack@bendbulletin.com


Pot activist and his brown paper bag

posted Sep 11, 2010, 8:36 AM by Ron Boozell   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 7:54 AM ]

-declares again, "I am no longer a drug criminal."

- - - - - - -

Bend awards $11.4 million sewer contract

Project could be headache for southeast Bend

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Oct 8, 2015 at 12:03AM / Updated Oct 8, 2015 at 09:43AM

The Bend City Council awarded an $11.4 million contract Wednesday night to Taylor Northwest to construct a segment of a new major sewer line in southeast Bend.

The Bend-based company will build a stretch of the city’s southeast interceptor that runs north from Ferguson Road through residential streets to SE Reed Market Road. City staff acknowledged the construction, scheduled to begin later this month and finish in November 2016, will disrupt life in the Orion Greens and King’s Forest areas of the Old Farm District neighborhood.

The interceptor is intended to relieve existing sewer lines that are overcapacity, which, in turn, will allow new developments to hook up to the system. The project will also allow sections of southeast Bend that are on septic tanks to connect to the sewer system.

“This will be very disruptive; we’ve never hidden from that,” said Tom Hickmann, who leads the city’s engineering and infrastructure planning department.

The city has met with community members to field concerns about mail delivery, school buses, the preservation of trees and other matters. Eric Forster, the project manager, noted the contract was awarded to Taylor Northwest in part because the firm is the best-prepared to accommodate residents during construction.

Taylor Northwest’s proposal, however, was not the cheapest option. In addition to the firm’s plan to work with the community, the city also cited the firm’s experience in rock excavation and its ability to minimize shaking residents would feel. Much of the pipe will require ditches at least 19 feet deep.

Councilor Casey Roats said if he lived in the area, he’d be “out waving” for the sewer line to be laid along his street, noting many neighborhoods that have self-financed sewer systems end up paying about $30,000 or $40,000 per household.

The city has construction scheduled through 2018, but segments of the interceptor have not yet been planned.

During the visitors section, community activist and recent City Council candidate Ron Boozell displayed a marijuana clipping. In July, Boozell displayed a cutting at a council meeting and was issued a citation afterward.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Boozell said his first display will cost him $850 in fines and fees. At the time, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said Boozell violated a section of the state’s new marijuana law that reads: “Homegrown marijuana in public view (is) prohibited.”

Boozell said Wednesday his actions are “not a stunt,” instead emphasizing his second display was motivated by his view that he is “no longer a drug criminal,” despite the earlier citation.

Boozell left the meeting without being issued a second fine. Porter said it was clear Boozell “was agitated and looking for confrontation.” The chief added he used his discretion to not do anything Wednesday night, but said his department “will be investigating it further.”

In other business, the City Council approved an expenditure not to exceed $245,000 for additional inspection and testing at the city’s $33 million water-treatment plant, which is under construction. According to an issue summary, the additional costs are because construction is behind schedule and due to the contractor’s “chosen means and methods of construction.”

The plant is being built by Apollo Inc., which is based in Kennewick, Washington. The topic was part of the City Council’s consent agenda and was not specifically discussed.

The council also approved a contract for a behavioral health specialist to serve the Bend Police and Fire departments. Police Sgt. Brian Beekman stressed the importance of having such services available.

“There’s a large amount of data out there showing the cumulative effects of this type of stress and trauma (experienced by first responders) that manifests itself in physical and mental health issues,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com


Activist declares "No longer drug criminal"

posted Sep 3, 2010, 5:16 AM by Ron Boozell   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 8:21 AM by Ron Boozell ]

HA HA ...they called it a pot leaf.

A mature marijuana flower displayed for council and guests, and readers.

Ron Boozell shows off his pot leaf at Wednesday's City Council meeting.

City Council

A lesson in legalized marijuana

Man brings marijuana leaf into City Hall to demonstrate Measure 91

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Jul 17, 2015 at 12:01AM / Updated Jul 17, 2015 at 05:54AM

After he held up a large marijuana leaf at a Bend City Council meeting Wednesday night and passed the plant along to the elected officials sitting behind the dais, Ron Boozell learned something.

Boozell, a community activist and recent council candidate known as Rondo, was there to offer public testimony about how his lifestyle would no longer be considered a crime in Oregon after Measure 91 legalized recreational marijuana. Without waiting for a response, Boozell asked Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, who was seated at the back of council chambers, whether he was doing anything wrong, flashing a double thumbs-up in the official’s direction.

“Not to shock anybody, and I don’t know if this will be the first time this plant has been in this room, but I’d like to present this,” Boozell said, passing off the foot-tall leaf as a number of councilors laughed. “God it smells good.”

But according to section 56 of the voluminous Measure 91 — “Homegrown marijuana in public view (is) prohibited” — Boozell, 54, was doing something wrong, though his actions also illustrate public confusion about what exactly is legal.

After Boozell’s testimony, Porter, who was able to reference the pertinent statute language from memory, called in an officer to issue Boozell a citation that may cost him up to $650.

The police, however, were a bit confused, too. Boozell said the officer wasn’t sure what section of the law to specify on the citation slip, eventually deciding on section 54, which pertains to the use, not display, of the plant.

Porter said Thursday the section number will be easy to amend, but commented the confusion shows “how we’re all struggling to understand a law put out at the last minute that’s both extremely complicated and in-depth.”

On this issue, Boozell and Porter somewhat agree.

“The law is not clear” Boozell wrote in an email Thursday. “I care not. I am not a drug criminal. I protest any law, clear or vague, that seeks to punish my ability to speak freely. Marijuana is food and medicine for me, and has been a regular part of my diet for three decades. I consumed it when it required me to do so under great risk of incarceration and many forms of punishment including fines and confiscation (of) personal property. I will continue to use it, regardless of the law, or the citation.”

There was confusion behind the dais, too, as members of the City Council said it wasn’t even clear to them whether a law was being broken.

“I’m glad the chief was here, as I didn’t really have any idea if it was illegal or not,” Mayor Jim Clinton said after the meeting. “It’s a little sad, because he was exercising his free speech, but the law is the law, I suppose.”

Councilor Nathan Boddie, who also wasn’t sure about the law, wondered whether Boozell could have gained permission to display the leaf before coming to the meeting, referencing how police departments routinely display drugs they have seized.

“Let’s not get distracted by the fun of the juice,” Boddie said, using a slang term. “There’s hard work to do with making sense of this issue. Rondo isn’t subtle, but his intent clearly wasn’t to distribute or anything like that.”

After the meeting ended past midnight, Porter said his department always considers “the totality of the circumstances” when reacting to a situation, adding that a citation was appropriate in this case.

“It was a public meeting in a public building,” Porter said. “People have a responsibility to know the law and should really do their research.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com


Community Cost Reduction Act

posted Sep 1, 2010, 7:48 AM by Ron Boozell   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 8:36 AM by Ron Boozell ]

Boozell's pot petition gets the OK

Bend council candidate wants to ease enforcement in Bend

Nick Grube / The Bulletin

Published Apr 21, 2012 at 05:00AM

Ronald “Rondo” Boozell has gotten the OK to gather signatures for a ballot measure that would prohibit the city of Bend from spending its money to combat marijuana possession.

Boozell, who has announced his intention to run for Tom Greene’s seat on the City Council, submitted the required paperwork to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office on Friday to launch his campaign to relax marijuana enforcement in the city.

Coincidentally — or perhaps not — the numerical representation of Friday’s date, 4/20, is significant in pot culture. According to Internet sources, the number 420, originally used by San Rafael (Calif.) High School students to indicate when they would meet to smoke pot, evolved into a code for marijuana itself.

To qualify his initiative for a ballot, Boozell must collect signatures from at least 15 percent of Bend’s registered voters. That means he needs 6,615 valid signatures, City Recorder Robyn Christie said.

Boozell did not respond to a call and an email seeking comment Friday. While he has not specified when his measure would appear on a ballot, he must have enough signatures collected at least 90 days before a regularly scheduled election.

His campaign, the Community Cost Reduction Act, aims to amend the city’s charter to prohibit city resources “to restrict or punish any person for the possession of cannabis in any form or quantity.”

Boozell ran for City Council in 2010, losing to incumbent Mark Capell. He also served on a city charter review committee that studied whether Bend should have an elected mayor.


Cannabis activist seeks city council seat

posted Oct 19, 2009, 8:24 PM by Ron Boozell   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 8:46 AM by Ron Boozell ]

Gardens, marijuana

Published Oct 30, 2010 at 05:00AM

We live in times of great opportunity.

There is a movement amongst you. Maybe even your parents are doing it.

Gardening to provide local healthy food and local healthy medicine follows the most basic of urges and is the most basic of rights. This movement to produce our own food is partly motivated by the rejection of the corporate farming agenda to control our food choices. As you may know, they seek to influence legislation to regulate and tax our home and community gardens.

Bend community garden project: The city of Bend owns numerous properties that should not be sold in a soft market. They can, however, be host to gardens and dispensaries at no net cost to the city. Corporate properties around town can be encouraged to host a community garden. Our vision is to see hundreds of community gardens in our village. This project is completely volunteer-powered and community-supported.

Yes on Measure 74: End the failed drug war forever. Vote to turn a historic liability into a money-maker. Vote to turn a plant that has cost us so much over the years into a product that will produce jobs locally and stimulate our economy. Consumers should have safe access to healthy, safe medicine. Am I really the only local candidate with the sense to endorse this measure?

We do live in times of great opportunity. Seize the day.

Seeking with you equality and human dignity for all.

Ron Boozell

Bend City Council candidate


Pot activists gather support for MM

posted Oct 15, 2009, 4:00 PM by Ron Boozell   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 8:53 AM by Ron Boozell ]

Town hall on medical marijuana

Crowd discussed merits and details of Measure 74

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

Published Oct 15, 2010 at 05:00AM

A supportive crowd of about 50 people turned out at Bend’s Community Center Thursday evening for a question-and-answer session on Measure 74, the upcoming ballot measure that would permit privately owned shops where medical marijuana cardholders would be able to purchase marijuana.

Sarah Duff, assistant clinical director for Oregon Green Free Services and one of the panelists Thursday, said more than half of the state’s cardholders are believed to have a difficult time securing a regular supply of marijuana. About half of the prospective cardholders she meets through her Portland clinic have no idea where they’ll get marijuana, and about a quarter plan on trying to grow their own — a process that is more difficult than it might appear.

“It’s three to six months for patients to get their first crop, and that’s if they’re growing correctly,” Duff said. “Most patients are growing for the first time, and there are crop failures.”

Jeremy Kwit said even those cardholders who are supplied by state-certified growers often don’t have a steady supply, as experienced growers are also subject to crop failure and rarely have consistent harvests throughout the year.

The event was sponsored by High Desert Patients Group, a nonprofit started in August by Kwit, who is looking to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Bend if the measure passes.

If approved by voters, Measure 74 would build on Oregon’s original 1998 medical marijuana act by authorizing nonprofit dispensaries and a new class of producers, who would be permitted to keep up to 24 mature marijuana plants and six pounds of marijuana for sale to licensed dispensaries.

The dispensaries would not be permitted within residential neighborhoods or within 1,000 feet of a school, and growers and dispensary employees would be subject to criminal background checks.

Both dispensaries and producers would be subject to a 10 percent tax on their sales, which could generate up to $20 million for the state, according to a financial impact statement prepared by state officials. A portion of the tax would be diverted to fund research into medical marijuana and help low-income cardholders purchase marijuana.

Formal opposition to Measure 74 has largely come from law enforcement, and has suggested the measure fails to deal with problems in the current law. Statements appearing in Oregon’s voters’ pamphlet suggest cards are being issued to patients who should not qualify under the current law, and that Measure 74 will complicate efforts to crack down on the illegal marijuana trade.

Kwit said the measure is a step in the right direction that will create a clear distinction between medical and illegal marijuana.

“I think this is the measure that clears that up, because it creates a safe, regulated, zoned supply system that doesn’t exist today,” Kwit said.

Audience members at Thursday’s forum also discussed the steps involved in obtaining a producers license, the state’s role in monitoring the quality of the medical marijuana supply, and the tax obligations of a producer or dispensary organized as a nonprofit. Bend City Council candidate Ron Boozell, who was at the meeting, endorsed Measure 74 as an opportunity to create jobs. He challenged other local candidates to do the same.

Approximately 36,000 Oregonians have been authorized to use marijuana under the state’s existing medical marijuana program. Measure 74 would not change eligibility guidelines for the program.

Kwit said Measure 74 will allow medical marijuana to be treated in the same fashion as other consumer products.

“We don’t grow our own food. If you need pain relief you don’t grow a poppy plant in your front yard so you can extract your own Oxycontin in your kitchen sink,” he said. “This is no different.”


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