Parents and bus drivers upset by smell of hemp

Complaints say the smell of hemp has filled the school buses.

Posted: Sep 26, 2019 6:17 PM

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore. -- The Eagle Point School District bus lot is only feet away from a hemp field. As harvest season approaches, the smell of the hemp is getting stronger. Every day, students are greeted with the smell of hemp on their bus rides. 

"This is the time of year I hate," Jennifer Backesallred, bus driver of 18 years, said.

Backesallred said the kids on her bus complain about hemp every day. She's not alone, but there's nothing bus drivers can do to get rid of the smell.

"I thought about changing my route, but they've popped up everywhere," Backesallred said. "So no matter what, I'm driving through the hemp farms because we are just surrounded by them now."

Diane Archer, bus driver of 20 years, said, "We go by fields and it's disgusting and the kids have to hold their breath because it stinks."

In Oregon, there are time, place and manner restrictions on marijuana, but not hemp. Backesallred said she's actually allergic to hemp, so the smell usually gives her a migraine.

"It's no fun to suffer from migraines every day. I can't wait for them to harvest because it will all be done and the air will clear and we won't be affected as much," she said. "For all I know there could be kids on my bus allergic to it too."

Because hemp is considered an agricultural crop, there are no requirements for fencing or to keep it away from schools. Bret Golla, father of five, said he can't believe hemp is growing next to the Eagle Point School District's bus lot. 

"It's a terrible location, I believe that if more parents knew about this, there's better locations either to move the buses or move the pot," he said. 

Golla doesn't let his children ride the bus to school anymore because he said kids shouldn't be forced to be exposed to the smell of hemp.

"Everyone loves that money and everyone loves that green gold and it pays a lot of bills, I don't think people will be happy with me, but I'm here for my children."

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