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Smoke Signals11/11-11/18 

Of Pot and Parks

In Bend, we have now enjoyed a full month of recreational cannabis sales from 14 stores around town. There have been no reports of problems with these sales, or the cannabis consumed as a result of them. Instead, most of the action has taken place at the City's Advisory Committee meetings. The Committee is working on local regulations for Bend's cannabis businesses.

Last week, the Committee was lobbied by the Bend Park & Recreation District to go well beyond the already substantial statewide cannabis business regulations and impose a 250-feet buffer for businesses around Bend parks. This would be in addition to the 1,000-feet buffer already imposed for schools and between cannabis businesses.

This idea immediately brought to mind how much my friends and I enjoy sitting outside drinking beers at Crows Feet Commons on a warm (or marginally warm) day overlooking Mirror Pond. When we do that, we are practically in Drake Park. But apparently Bend Parks & Rec never raised this as a potential problem when the City and State approved an alcohol-serving business at this location right next to the City's flagship park.

Bend Parks & Rec also apparently did not bat an eye at the idea of serving beer and wine at its new ice-skating and sports rink soon-to-open right across the street from Deschutes Brewery in southwest Bend. At the brewery, the beer-savvy Bendite or visitor can consume four small Deschutes beers for free at the conclusion of one of the daily brewery tours, then walk across the street for some more brews at the ice skating rink before heading onto the ice for some drunken skating among children. Skate rentals are just $3.

In response to the Parks & Rec request, committee member and cannabis attorney Michael Hughes pointed out this disconnect.

"The word for that is hypocrisy," he said. "I can't vote for anything that's hypocritical. That's just the way I was raised."

The Committee narrowly voted down the Parks & Rec buffer request by a vote of 4-3.

But it did add a rule requiring businesses to have a 150-feet buffer around childcare businesses. The actual value of this regulation is questionable, since the DiamondTree store on Galveston Avenue is already within the buffer of Westside Shorty's.

The regulation will not apply retroactively, so Bend is now faced with the risk that someone who purchases cannabis at DiamondTree will walk down the street and get cannabis into the hands of preschoolers. This is something that would be less likely to happen, apparently, if there were only a few more feet between the store and the day care.

But how would this happen, exactly? And why would it? And why is the City not concerned about patrons of 10 Barrel Brewing walking across the street and doing the same thing with some Swill? As Jeremy Kwit, advisory committee member and president of Bend medical dispensary Bloom Well so succinctly put it, "I've not heard of a single case of somebody purchasing cannabis and throwing it over the fence of a daycare."

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