SELMA — Grow Condos owner Wayne Zallen of Eagle Point is poised to open his newest venture, a marijuana-friendly campground called Smoke on the Water Lake Selmac.
Zallen last month purchased Lake Selmac Resort, a 5-acre property bordering Josephine County's largest draw for campers and anglers.
He envisions his campers lighting up in their RV or tent sites, or inside a 20-by-40-foot "community center" on the property. He also plans a stage for concerts and other events, and custom tepees, massages and yoga.
It's marijuana-friendly because state law allows marijuana use on private property.
Zallen also is seeking approval from county planning officials for another entity to operate a dispensary on the same property.
To Zallen's way of thinking, Oregon's relaxed marijuana laws have opened up a lucrative niche opportunity at private facilities such as Lake Selmac Resort.
"We're looking at doing a national footprint. You have to get started somewhere," said Zallen. "To the best of my knowledge, it's the first pot-friendly campground."
Wednesday afternoon, the resort was deserted, but manager Nick Rush was in the general store, which will be remodeled.
Rush said a group that rented one of two cabins at the resort two weeks ago were excited to hear they could smoke on the property.
"We've been trying to spread the word. Everybody seems excited," he said.
Zallen plans to rent boats on the waterfront at Lake Selmac, as previous resort owners have done for many years.
A lease of a strip of county-owned land for the docks and boathouse would need approval. The Josephine County Board of Commissioners and the Parks Department appear to be on board. Commissioners recently heard discussions, and approval of Zallen's lease will be on the agenda at a public meeting soon. The lease would bring in $5,400 in six years.
"If we can put the appropriate provisions in the lease agreement, we should be fine," Commissioner Simon Hare told the Daily Courier.
Those provisions include absolutely no marijuana consumption by Smoke on the Water campers (or anyone for that matter) on county property, which encompasses the entire lake, boat ramps and county campgrounds at three locations on the lake.
"If they manage this property, they could probably do very well," Parks Manager Sarah Wright said. "I'm a little concerned about how this may affect our campgrounds, but he's working with me."
She envisions signage to make sure the public knows citizens can't sit on the docks and light up.
"It's going to be on the parks to enforce and make sure it's family-friendly and open to tourists," Wright said. "It's very clear that even though marijuana is legal in Oregon, you cannot consume in public, period."
Wright added that the county does allow people to bring alcohol into county parks, including campgrounds. Beer kegs are allowed only in day-use areas, however.
Mark Pettinger, spokesperson for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, said he hasn't heard of an operation similar to Smoke on the Water in Oregon.
OLCC sets the rules on all recreational marijuana use in the state.
The law for private property states that people may possess up to 8 ounces of usable cannabis, or dried flower.
Pettinger was not certain Wednesday if 30 campers on the same property with the maximum amount of product would fall under some other rule.
Zallen's Grow Condos corporation builds marijuana "condos" for growing and processing in Eagle Point, and has started to build them in Eugene.
"We've sold all our inventory and have strong demand for 33 units we're building in Eugene," he said.
He also owns dispensaries in Astoria and Seaside, and he said he is excited to do business in rural Josephine County.
"I think the community so far has received us very well," he said. "I want to be a good neighbor out there and do right by Josephine County."
— Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.