A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany council: More talk about pot

Written October 12th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Sean Kidd explains marijuana law to the Albany council in August. He did so again Monday.

Sean Kidd explains marijuana law to the Albany council in August. He did so again Monday.

The Albany City Council keeps talking about additional local restrictions it could put on the marijuana trade, but almost everyone else seems to have moved on. Only a handful of people were in the audience Monday for the council’s work session, moved from a smaller room to the regular council chambers in apparent anticipation of a much bigger crowd.

Existing medical marijuana dispensaries (Albany is supposed to have five, but I havent checked) are safe where they are. But state law gives cities the power to ban recreational marijuana shops, and in counties like Linn, which disapproved of Measure 91 last fall with less than 55 percent of no votes, such bans must be put to a local vote in the 2016 general election.

The state plans to start accepting rec-pot-shop license applications Jan. 4, 2016, unless a local jurisdiction has enacted a ban. So the assistant city attorney, Sean Kidd, framed the council’s choice this way (I’m paraphrasing) : Make up your mind if you want to ban rec-pot-shops pretty soon. If you ban them, you don’t have to worry about passing restrictions on the time, place and manner of operations of such shops until next fall — and not then if the voters uphold your ban in the general election.

The council talked about it Monday but reached no decision. Two councilors, Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen, dont want a ban. Three others, Rich Kellum, Floyd Collins and Bessie Johnson, would likely vote for one, and so would Mayor Sharon Konopa if she got the chance.

Councilor Bill Coburn might be on the fence. He said Monday he would probably vote to rescind a council ban, enacted last month, on medical dispensaries selling recreational pot, which the state allows until the end of 2016. But as to how he would vote on a ban on recreational shops, I have no clue.

There are some things the council is powerless to change. One is that possession of marijuana by adults is legal, and so is marijuana use by adults in private. Also legal is the growing of personal amounts of weed on private property out of public view.

The upshot is that even though the state limits dispensaries to 1,000 feet from any school — and the same will likely apply to recreational shops — and Albany for the most part bars dispensaries within 300 feet of residential zones, schools and private houses can in fact be surrounded on all sides by little marjuana plantations right over the fence. If that doesn’t make all the tooth-gnashing over commercial marijuana restrictions sound like a waste of time, it should. (hh)

12 responses to “Albany council: More talk about pot”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    At yesterdays work session, I believe city attorney Sean Kidd offered the opportunity for a very interesting solution to our marijuana conundrum that I had not contemplated before. (At least it solves my “issues.”)

    1. Rescind the ban on early recreational sales by the medical marijuana dispensaries.
    2. Place a ballot measure asking to totally ban rec. sales on the Nov. 2016 ballot.

    Those may seem diametrically opposed, but think through it…

    Plusses for #1:
    A. It allows the very highly secure, already up-and-running-with-no-problems dispensaries to follow even tighter OLCC rules to start early. (As you are aware, NO edibles, etc. are allowed under the early sales rules.) That will garner ever more information as a “baseline” going forward.
    B. NO new dispensaries that might come after removal of the ban will be allowed to be part of the group. Only those already in place are/would be “grandfathered.”

    Plusses for #2:
    A. Stating we will put it on the ballot for Nov. 2016 will preclude ANY normal stand-alone recreational shops to open because the OLCC has already stated they will not grant a license to any jurisdiction that has put the question the to voters. (That means Albany folks could apply starting Jan. 4th, but the OLCC will simply hold their application until results of Nov. 2016 are known.)
    B. And because the medical marijuana dispensaries are up & running, that gives us plenty of time to come up with reasonable Time, Place, Manner (TPM) regulations to have in place for after Nov. elections if voters again approve recreational sales.

    I think this could be an elegant compromise to the overly simplistic “all or nothing” and “100% black or white” scenarios being bandied about. Time will tell…

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Regardless of how one feels about the use of pot, the will of Albany voters is known. A majority of city voters marked their ballots to help pass Measure 91. This means licensing to sell recreational pot should begin next January.

    Now it appears the council wants to play games and force a ban and referral on an issue that has already been decided at the ballot box.

    It’s a matter of trust.

    If the council chooses to play the ban and refer game, I suspect there will be unintended consequences. It appears there may be several additional local measures on the Nov 2016 ballot. The council will no doubt fight these measures.

    But why should anyone even listen to a council that intentionally thwarts the will of its people?

    Mistrust is the logical consequence of betrayal.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      The “end game” of this process for me is to allow recreational marijuana to be sold in Albany. I honestly believe the voters will, in fact, again vote to approve it as they already did. Because of that, I think the assistant city attorneys’ proffering the option the way he did is an elegant compromise to where we currently stand. It allows early sales to commence at dispensaries only (which give more cold-hard-facts to the efficacy of existing OLCC rules), it allows for TMP rules to be worked through, and gives time for the public at large to get over their concerns and vote for rec. sales by an even higher margin than before. That’s a “chance” I’m willing to accept.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Playing your game undermines the direct legislative authority of a majority of Albany voters as exercised in an election.

        Sacrificing the principle of direct democracy under the banner of political compromise is dishonorable.

        Should we now expect multiple referrals on future measures where the council doesn’t like the outcome of an election? This is a dangerous precedent.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          You call it a “dangerous precedent.” I call it basic compromise. You call that “dishonarable.” I call it living in the real world. We’ll see what develops this evening. As Sean Kidd stated, whatever “we” decide, doesn’t have to be done immdediately, but soon!

        • Bob Woods says:

          Excuse me Gordon, but you forget the small issue that the voters in Albany were voting on a statewide law, not directly on how shops are to be regulated in Albany, which is a different issue. They did not vote directly on that.

          “Sacrificing the principle of direct democracy under the banner of political compromise is dishonorable.”

          Well how about the direct democracy that adopted the Oregon Constitution in 1857 and said in Article II Section 6: “No Negro, Chinamen, or Mulatto shall have the right of suffrage.”

          Boy, that sure is a shining moment for direct democracy in Oregon.

          And only took until 1926, 69 years after adoption and 61 years after the end of the civil war, before the liberals and religious could cobble together a majority of Oregonians to repeal that vicious language.

          The founders of this country chose representative government PRECISELY because they know that relying solely on direct democracy had been the key factor in the downfall of all previous attempts, starting with the Athenian democracy.

          In other words, it just doesn’t work when you try and make a democracy solely function as a direct democracy.

          It is foolish to think that in every case an elected body will perfectly represent the majority of voters all the time. Pure foolishness.

          This is a case where a majority of the council has real concerns. They are using their best judgement to try and do what’s best for the community. It turns out that I don’t agree with the majority either. But under no way do I see their actions as pernicious. As I have said before, this is a mild inconvenience to Albany residents that want to buy pot, not a threat to the existence of our republic.

          Yet in case after case, issue after issue, you deride and excoriate the city council as bad actors. You have repeatedly accused them as having engaged in felonious activity in their official duties, but you have never taken the responsibility of providing evidence to support that indictment.

          And as far as the dishonor of compromise that you so ardently believe, government without compromise is dictatorship. Remember that Gordon. And remind your buddy Trump and the rest of the extreme right about that too.

          • James Carrick says:

            Woods, your “fear” of the “extreme right” is more than evident, nevermind that the mainstream Democratic Party is currently tripping all over each other to “out left” Bernie Sanders. What you call “extreme right” was once DEAD CENTER. It’s YOU that needs to get real, pal.

          • Bob Woods says:

            Just read what Republicans are saying about their own party.


            Dead Center is in your dreams.

          • James Carrick says:

            Woods, the NY Times isn’t much more than an arm of the Democratic Party. That’s nothing more than an opinion piece by another liberal hack. You are approaching Marx and Lenin as you fall all over yourselves to give away America’s future just to win another election. The Democratic Committee (Wasserman-Schultz) also made it clear there would be no “attacks” on each other, particularly on Hillary Clinton, during the last debate…hence Bernie’s big moment re: Hillary’s email problems which are subject to three separate (non-political) federal investigations, and I’m not including the current House investigation in that count. And CNN made sure not to get into HARD questions on controversial issues. I had a hard time staying awake. Looked more like summer campers singing kumbaya. That’s your idea of a “free exchange of ideas?”

            There are MANY people throughout the U.S. that are concerned we are watching our country changing into something the founders had tried to prevent. Your Democratic Party is leading the way, Bob. Hip Hip Hooray!

            Hillary for Prison: 2016

  3. Bob Woods says:

    David Brooks has an impeccable reputation as a conservative: He started with William F. Buckley Jr. at the National Review; he was an editorial writer and film reviewer for the Washington Times; reporter and Op-ed editor at the Wall Street Journal, and a senior editor at the Weekly Standard from its founding. These are ALL bastions of conservatism.

    The only thing I know of your conservative credentials is your oft stated dedication to Libertarianism, and that you were a Roofer.

    Maybe you’ve seen Brooks on OPB on the News Hour where he has been their conservative commentator for years. Yes, he works and writes as one of two conservatives for the New York Times, one of the best newspapers in the world. And he’s written at least 4 books, all conservative.

    And he said this about the way the Republican Party has lost what it once stood for:

    “All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party. Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.”

    Brooks talks about Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus by saying…

    “Really, have we ever seen bumbling on this scale, people at once so cynical and so naive, so willfully ignorant in using levers of power to produce some tangible if incremental good? These insurgents can’t even acknowledge democracy’s legitimacy — if you can’t persuade a majority of your colleagues, maybe you should accept their position. You might be wrong!”

    To my mind that phrase “… so cynical and so naïve, so willfully ignorant…” sums up just what you and Gordon and others do on these blogs to promote the most extreme political positions in the country.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Woods, what does anything you’ve written have to do with the pot issue in a city you don’t even live in?

      The DH deletes comments this far off topic. I wish Hasso would do the same.

    • James Carrick says:

      Get it right Bob. Your attempt to discredit me is lame. I don’t go around tooting my horn much but your characterization of what you (think you) “know” of me demands a response. My goals were to be something more than a number crunching paper pusher, such as yourself. I was a roofing CONTRACTOR that specialized in residential re-roofing projects for a few years before I got tired of all the bureaucratic BS that every business owner must deal with on a daily basis. Before that I was a journeyman carpenter and project foreman/superintendent for several building contractors after starting at the “bottom” in my teen years as a common laborer, where most people in construction get their start. I have built many things, met some considerable challenges on projects with difficult logistics from paper mills to chairlifts. Roofing projects were among the least of my accomplishments. I also spent several years since 2000 as a dental lab technician doing very rewarding work centered around helping people deal with their dental problems. I’ve been much more than a “roofer,” though to be honest, I have more respect for most of the “roofers” I employed or have known than for the typical progressive (statist) bureaucrats you seem to revere so highly. I also spent some time working for the federal government and can tell anyone that want’s to listen how inefficient the government works in comparison to the private sector. I saw four of every five dollars WASTED during my federal employment. I couldn’t WAIT to fulfill that commitment and get back to being productive again, something my federal supervisors discouraged….openly, for “budgeting reasons.”

      I don’t have credentials in the “common sense” (a concept you discredit anyway), beyond my life experience and the sweat of hard, physically demanding work, owning a successful business, and making money for my employers. And if you think it’s easy to be a business owner, a CONTRACTOR, or to learn a completely new trade/skill late in one’s working life, it only proves how little you know. Those are my CREDENTIALS. And there are MANY good people out there exactly like me, with the same “credentials” Bob……people who are sick of the direction Obama and the Democratic Party are taking this country. You best save your smug, condescending attitude for AFTER the Nov. 2016 election. From where I stand, you don’t have all that much to crow about yourself. Don’t you have a pie to eat tonight?


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