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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany dispensaries? Suspense grows

Written April 7th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
After Monday's marijuana discussion, the council listens to Councilor Bessie Johnson, far right, on another topic.

After Monday’s marijuana discussion, the council listens to Councilor Bessie Johnson, far right, on another topic.

Albany’s proposed one-year ban on medical marijuana dispensaries is once again up in the air. The apparent reason: Councilor Bill Coburn (in the red shirt in the shot above) does not want to force Canna Kitchen out of business. A decision may be made at the city council’s regular meeting, which starts at 7:15 Wednesday night, April 9, at City Hall.

On March 19, four councilors including Coburn said they favored an ordinance that would impose a moratorium until May 1, 2015, on allowing any of the dispensaries otherwise allowed and registered by the state. But Coburn also made it plain he did not want to harm Canna Kitchen, a 2-year-old operation that transforms marijuana plant material into other forms — including capsules, ointments and tinctures — for holders of state medical marijuana cards. The business is on Ferry Street in an industrial zone. It does not consider itself a dispensary, but state authorities disagree, sand it applied for registration.

The ban is scheduled to come up for a second reading and a vote on Wednesday night, and the council discussed the issue at Monday’s work session with Sean Kidd, the assistant city attorney. According to the back and forth between councilors, the lawyer and City Manager Wes Hare, the city would not be allowed to make an exception, based on zoning or anything else, if it enacted a ban.

Rhea Graham, in charge of Canna Kitchen & Research LLC.

Rhea Graham, in charge of Canna Kitchen & Research LLC.

But if a ban is not enacted, the city could enact “reasonable regulations” on dispensaries either now or any time. Monday’s discussion pointed to a possible outcome: The straight ban would be defeated with Coburn voting against it and Mayor Sharon Konopa siding with the opponents, as she has signaled she might. The council then could enact — immediately if the mayor has her way — regulations that would ban dispensaries within 300 feet of residential zones but allow them in industrial zones. That would allow Canna Kitchen to continue.

What else the regulation ordinance would say about other zones or other rules was not immediately clear. State law does not allow dispensaries in residential zones or within 1,000 feet of schools or each other.

President Janet Steele of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce appeared before the council Monday with a letter saying her board of directors unanimously backed the one-year ban. “There are several communities in the region where those with a legal medical marijuana card will be able to purchase what they need,” she said. “We see no reason for Albany to be one of the first to allow dispensaries.”

A few medical-marijuana advocates were in the audience, but the council took no further testimony after hearing more than 90 minutes of it last month.

I asked Coburn about his stand after the meeting. He would not commit himself but said he had made his view on Canna Kitchen clear — he did not want it banned — two weeks ago. (hh)

 



3 responses to “Albany dispensaries? Suspense grows”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    “President Janet Steele of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce appeared before the council ……..”There are several communities in the region where those with a legal medical marijuana card will be able to purchase what they need,” she said. “We see no reason for Albany to be one of the first to allow dispensaries.”

    So people are supposed to walk to them?

  2. Evelyn Broeffle says:

    But, hey, let’s welcome a business that is using religion to prevent women from their hard-won reproductive control – Hobby Lobby. That seems fine with them and so does encouraging DWI’s. Right? Color me even MORE planning on moving away from this any longer. I would rather order on-line and I HATE that. I have enjoyed living and working here but not any longer. I think Albany City, police and, now, Chamber have made me feel unwelcome here. Obviously, it is NOT my city council, PD or the Chamber of Non-Commerce. We have had large businesses close in the last several years – Albertson’s, Ray’s, Joe’s, Toys, etc. – and so, so many small businesses that one would think/ want to think our community ?leaders? would be happy to have proven, successful businesses like our Canna Kitchen and Albany Alternative Health Solutions. Dispensaries have many rules and regulations to follow already; they have offered to follow any Albany can come up with including paying a special fee to do business. How many other businesses have come knocking on their doors begging to do business? I would bet – NONE. Also, as for the several other regions we can go so Albany isn’t among the first, if there are “several” other regions then how can they consider Albany to be among the first? I would be interested to know how many city council members, DA (voted in), etc. have polled their constituents (and not just those that agree with them) to find out what those who voted them into office really want in this situation. Oh, and not by using years old statistics. Contrary to my pro-dispensary stance, I am not, not, not saying Albany MUST okay dispensaries. I just don’t believe that these people are governing for our benefit. If this subject is so very questionable, why wasn’t there a referendum vote? I don’t think 3 or 4 residents should decide when they have openly stated that they are against the idea no matter what anyone else says. I have heard many residents say they have changed their minds or are willing to be educated in light of the recent, positive reports in various media regarding various medical marijuana applications. Why is half the council so unwilling? Why are they so afraid of a bunch of sick people? I am disgusted and disheartened. Referendum anyone?

  3. Jill Morgan says:

    I would hope that the City Council would be more open minded and aware than the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce appears to be….according to this report the “President Janet Steele of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce appeared before the council Monday with a letter saying her board of directors unanimously backed the one-year ban. “There are several communities in the region where those with a legal medical marijuana card will be able to purchase what they need,” she said. “We see no reason for Albany to be one of the first to allow dispensaries.”

    Those same communities that Albany sends its residents to in order to obtain their medical marijuana will, I believe, be the communities those Albany residents will also chose to spend their grocery, and other dollars while they are there. Is that what the Chamber of Commence in Albany really wants to happen?

 

 
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