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Pendleton declares marijuana smell a nuisance

Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on May 19, 2015 12:01AM

Last changed on May 19, 2015 10:28PM


Depending on its source, a skunky smell could be punishable by fine in Pendleton.

The Pendleton City Council approved an amendment to the city’s nuisance ordinance that prohibits marijuana odor from leaving a person’s property.

Police Chief Stuart Roberts said there are several marijuana grow sites across the city that elicit complaints from neighbors.

While offensive odors are already a part of the nuisance ordinance, Roberts said the amendment will give officers more leverage to enforce compliance.

According to Roberts, the police department’s previous encounters with violators have escalated into physical and criminal situations.

The arguments for and against the amendment were epitomized by two neighbors on S.W. Marshall Avenue.

Mike Arbogast said the pungent odor of his neighbor Bobby Woods’s medical marijuana grow — six plants under a ventilated car port — was negatively affecting his quality of life.

Arbogast said Woods has been drying his marijuana since January, which has forced him to take extra measures to keep the odor from his car and house.

“We normally open our windows in the early evenings to cool our house down in order to save energy,” he said. “The prevailing winds bring the odor from my neighbor’s house to my house. We will not be able to open our windows. It’s going to increase our energy bill.”

Despite maintaining the grow for five years, Woods said Arbogast has only been complaining about the grow for the past several months.

Woods said he has filters installed into his ventilation system that dampen the smell. He added that there are stronger filters on the market for commercial grows, but they are prohibitively expensive.

Woods said he replaces filters every four to five months and dries his medical marijuana every four months.

Roberts said filters could be used to mitigate the smell, but marijuana can emit odors even when its not in the drying process.

“I’m not going to talk about the intensity,” he added. “It’s a very subjective standard in terms of whether people are offended by it or not.”

Included in the amendment was also a provision that bans marijuana grows from public view.

City Attorney Nancy Kerns said the provision was a public safety issue.

“If I have a great bumper crop of marijuana in my backyard, I may have neighbors that don’t approve of marijuana and don’t want to have to look at it,” she said. “I may have people who see it from the street and think ‘I think I’ll sneak up there in the middle of the night and harvest some of that.’”

Councilman Chuck Wood said there’s already a state law that requires marijuana be screened from public view. Mayor Phillip Houk said the provision could be considered a housekeeping measure.

Ultimately, the amendment passed 6-1, with Councilwoman Jane Hill voting against and Councilman Al Plute absent.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.



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