Galen Nitcher says his asthma got significantly worse when a hemp field was planted behind his home. He says he’s had asthma for a long time, but he never remembers it being this bad.
“Your lungs start tightening up to where you can’t breathe,” Nitcher said.
Nitcher has lived in his Medford home for 30 years. He says he first noticed it during harvest.
“It causes me to run to an inhaler,” Nitcher
However, there’s not much he can do. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon law protects agricultural growers from court decisions based on noises, smells, dust or other nuisances associated with farming.
But with 30 years of memories in his house, Nitcher says he doesn’t want to pack up and leave.
“Anybody who would buy this place, when I decide what time to sell it, and that’s in the background, they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t pay the price,” Nitcher said.
Nitcher admits he hasn’t talked to his doctor about hemp’s effect on his asthma. But medical professionals, who have no knowledge of Nitcher’s medical history tell us, hemp and other crops can worsen asthma conditions.
“I hide in the house when the wind is blowing this direction,” Nitcher said.
The amount of hemp in the Rogue Valley and across the state has skyrocketed the last few years. Now that it’s decriminalized at the federal level, it’s expected to expand in other states as well.
Even Oregon State University has gotten involved. It planted the crop in the Rogue Valley this year and opened a new ‘Global Hemp Innovation Center’ in Corvallis, researching everything from pet food to clothing fibers.
Anna Weeks is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Originally from the Portland area, Anna is excited to explore Southern Oregon. In her free time, she can be found reading, running or watching sports.