The marijuana rebellion

We in Oregon should be grateful to our neighbors to the north on the issue of legalization of pot. They've done what Oregon voters refused to do, and thus they are taking a lead in trying to make some sense of this aspect of American life and law.

Like Washington state, Colorado also voted in the general election to make recreational use of marijuana legal. Now these two leaders on this issue will test how legalization by the states works in the face of the continued federal ban. Let's face facts here: Majorities of voters in two states have voted to rebel against Uncle Sam.

The feds have said little about this outcome other than to point out that marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law. Theoretically, this should not be a problem.

Theoretically, the administration could say that marijuana prohibition is not among the limited powers of the federal government. The Constitution says nothing about it. That would leave regulation of pot in the hands of the states, where it belongs.

I doubt the government will adopt such a restrictive view of its own powers, even in this limited case. But the alternative -- in the case of marijuana in Washington and Colorado now, and maybe on other issues elsewhere later -- is an increasing tension between what the central government demands and what freedom-loving citizens want. If that tension builds, if Congress continues to ignore what people in the states want on matters that are not of national concern, then sooner or later that tension will tear the country apart. (hh)

Rhea Graham:   The one good thing to them passing it and Measure 80 not passing (in my humble opinion) is that Oregon will not incur the legal costs fighting it at this point. I do believe the tipping point is just about here ... Cannabis is a plant from our Creator ... face it!


Palestine Church: See the progress

A crew this week was working on the historic Palestine Church, which had been moved to Adair Village from the Palestine crossroads in North Albany. Looks like the old structure was getting a foundation.

An update from Adair Village

Adair Village has made great progress restoring two former barracks buildings salvaged from the former Camp Adair, the Army training camp of World War II. They are being fixed up for some type of community use.

Climate change or something else?

Our cactus is blooming early. Climate change at work? Nah, probably not.

A study publicized by Oregon State speculates that climate change is causing additional stress to western rangelands where cattle and wild animals graze. In the Los Angeles Times, an art critic reports on the flooding in Venice. He suggests that the annual winter flooding there is much worse this time because of global warming. We know about Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, also said to be some sign of climate change. And now the aging cactus in our living room has bloomed, which usually doesn't happen till around Christmas. Must be another sign of global warming.

Really? No, not really. I just thought I'd mention the cactus because now anything unusual seems to have the same cause: climate change, at least in the eyes of the popular press.

Here's what I'm thinking. Of course the condition of western rangelands is affected by the weather, as it is by whatever else happens there, including grazing and the proliferation of wildlife such as feral horses. That doesn't mean we should decimate the animals or ban cattle grazing, which the study admits would cause all manner of economic hardship.

Another recent study worried about the effect of climate change on mountain meadows in our region. Only problem is that generally our region's temperatures have been trending down in the last 20 years, not up. What does THAT do to alpine meadows? As for Sandy, it was an unusual combination of storm patterns combined with high tides that caused the damage. The tides are caused by the moon.

And what about Venice? How could global warming raise the tides at the top end of the Adriatic Sea? Storm surges are a more likely cause, or perhaps the land in that part of the world is slowly sinking.

Our cactus in the living room? I have no explanation for that, but I seriously doubt that our houseplants are affected by anything other than how often they are watered and how high we set the heat. (hh)

Jennifer Anne Taylor: It's not just you.  Mine's blooming early too.  Must be a conspiracy.

Hazel Siebrecht: Mine is blooming, too. It sometimes blooms in April; then it is my Easter cactus, in November it becomes my Thanksgiving cactus and, while it probably won't bloom again by Christmas, if it does, I have a name chosen for it!  God is in charge of all creation, mere man can ony hope to improve on Him.

Out of place: Downtown billboard


On Albany's First Avenue, looking west.

There's a billboard on East First Avenue in Albany. It's been there for years. But I hadn't really paid attention to it until one day this month. With time on my hands, I was wandering around that part of town, on foot for once. And I got to wondering: What's a billboard doing there? Normally, billboards aren't allowed on streets like that, I thought. Are they? Right next to a house like that?

I asked David Martineau of the city planning department about it. He says the sign was put up some time before 1992, most likely, and therefore can stay there even though it does not conform to the city's development code. It sits in the "central business" zoning district, where today free-standing signs can't be bigger than 1 square foot for every foot of street frontage.

The frontage on this property is 38 feet, so if the sign was put up today, it could be no bigger than 38 square feet. This sign looks pretty sturdy, so it will probably overshadow that part of a downtown street for a good long time even though it would be against the zoning law if put up today.

Here's an editorial point: Billboards can be helpful on long-distance highways where looking at them keeps you entertained and awake. On city streets, to me they're useless at best and an unsightly distraction at worst. (hh)

Comment from Emi: "I think you are now searching for things to gripe about since downtown has been 'homogenized.' Sure it's nice, but there really isn't much personality anymore and it does seem a bit of a monopoly... I notice that billboard every day and have done for years and I really enjoy the Newport (yes, I know it sometimes changes) ad. Makes me remember that a lovely destination is not that far if I just keep driving turns! Leave it as it is. It does not stick out and, like you said, is sandwiched between two commercial properties."

Any reaction, send me an email via the link below.

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