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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany backs off marijuana-store ban

Written February 10th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
This part of the council favored withdrawing the pot ban. At the table from left are Mayor Sharon Konopa and Councilors Floyd Collins, Dick Olsen, Ray  Kopczynski and Bill Coburn.

This part of the council favored withdrawing the pot ban. At the table from left are Mayor Sharon Konopa and Councilors Floyd Collins, Dick Olsen, Ray Kopczynski and Bill Coburn.

Whatever happens with medical-marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, Albany won’t be in the forefront of trying to keep them out, at least for now. The city council Monday voted 4-2 to withdraw its application to change the city development code to prevent marijuana stores from getting started.
Council members Bill Coburn, Ray Kopczynski, Dick Olsen and Floyd Collins agreed with a suggestion by Mayor Sharon Konopa that the council walk away from the marijuana controversy. Councilors Bessie Johnson and Rich Kellum opposed the action but were outvoted.

The council had earlier voted to try to keep out medical marijuana dispensaries, which the 2013 legislature authorized under rules that will take effect in March. To accomplish its proposed ban, the council  had asked for a change in the development or land use code to make it impossible to set up a dispensary anywhere in town. City Attorney Jim Delapoer drafted language that would prohibit any land use for possession of or dealing in any controlled substance in violation of state or federal law, and marijuana does remain illegal under federal  law. The amendment seemingly would have banned even the use of weed by certified medical marijuana patients. Delapoer explained that if the council wanted to keep out dispensaries because they violate federal but allow use the medical pot , its position would be weaker if it came to a challenge.

After a public hearing on Jan. 27, the city planning commission voted 6-0 to recommend against the code change. The council had planned a public hearing on Feb. 26, but now it won’t come to that.

The issue of a city ban may not be dead, however. A bill pending in the state Senate, SB 1531, would allow cities and counties to restrict or ban marijuana dispensaries. The Senate Judiciary Committee planned a hearing and possible action on the bill and any of several amendments in Salem today (Feb. 11).



3 responses to “Albany backs off marijuana-store ban”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe they would do better by banning debris in the bicycle lanes?

  2. Greg Bechtel says:

    On behalf of the future staff of Albany Alternative Health Solutions and the innumerable patients, caregivers, growers, and their families we will be honored to help from our Albany location, we’d like to give a heart-felt thank you to Ms. Konopa, Mr. Olsen, Mr. Coburn, Mr. Collins, and Mr. Kopczynski for making the right decision regarding the language set before them. Banning the OMMP would have been a tremendous mistake and the people of this city knew it and didn’t want it. Those 5 leaders listened and restored a lot of people’s trust in our leadership in this city.

    Unfortunately, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Kellum didn’t listen. They didn’t hear the 26 people who testified at the city planning commission meeting. They didn’t take note of the over 70 people that turned out to try to convince the city not to take away safe patient access to medication. In a nutshell, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Kellum made it pretty clear how they feel about the needs of OMMP patients with their two “yes” votes. Perhaps now it’s time to make it pretty clear to Ms. Johnson and Mr. Kellum how the people of this city feel about their leadership. Ms. Johnson is up for re-election this December. If you are in Ward III and believe patients deserve safe access, make sure to register and vote this year. We’ll have to wait until 2016 to replace Mr. Kellum. Patients have waited for safe access for 15 years, we can wait 2 more, Mr. Kellum.

    Lastly, on a personal note, in my experiences with dealing with dispensaries as a patient and now as a future owner myself, I’ve come to the realization half of the negative stigma surrounding dispensaries is self-enforcing, sadly. This is primarily due to the fact that there are two types of dispensaries, to use my wife’s parlance: those ran by “skeezy drug-dealers” and those that are “medical marijuana retail stores”. The difference is apparent the minute you call or walk into either of these categories.

    I wanted to take a minute today not just to thank our city leaders for their wisdom to not ban the OMMP but also to help them and the city be secure with this decision. The only dispensary in Albany city limits as of March 3rd (that we know of) will be Albany Alternative Health Solutions. This distinction obviously gives us some considerable advantages as a business, but it also comes with a heavy burden. Not only are we the first, we are the only, and we have chosen to bear the cities name. We recognize this and are prepared for the challenge.

    We will always represent this city in the most professional, patient-minded light we possibly can. You won’t find a “weed store” atmosphere at AAHS. We are a professional organization and our staff will be held to the highest standards for behavior, ethics, and etiquette. We know full well the opportunity the city leaders have given us to prove, not just to the citizens of Albany and the council, but to the entire state, that dispensaries don’t have to be a shady “den of sin”. We won’t let you down Albany. We don’t like the dispensaries Ms. Johnson fears any more than she does and we will NEVER be Venice Beach. Ever.

    – Greg Bechtel
    Albany Alternative Health Solutions
    ahealthsolutions@gmail.com
    820 Pacific Blvd SE
    Albany, OR. 97321

 

 
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