A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany: No recreational sales at medical pot dispensaries

Written September 9th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Councilors Kellum, left, and Kopczynski are on opposite sides of the marijuana issue, but they're cordial about it.

Councilors Kellum, left, and Kopczynski are on opposite sides of the marijuana issue, but they’re cordial about it.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon can sell limited amounts of recreational weed starting Oct. 1, but probably not in Albany. The city council voted 4-2 Wednesday night in favor of prohibiting medical dispensaries from selling recreational pot.

The vote was a procedural one on an emergency ordinance “declaring a ban on the sale of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries.” The ordinance will come up for final action, its second reading, on Sept. 23, when the same four councilors likely will pass it. The measure has an emergency clause, meaning it will take effect immediately, in plenty of time to stop sales before they could begin in October.

The 2015 legislature allowed dispensaries of medical marijuana to sell small small amounts of recreational weed from Oct. 1 through the end of 2016, by which time the state will have licensed recreational pot retail stores. But it also allowed cities the option to ban such sales. The Albany ban would be in effect until the end of 2016.

The prohibition ordinance was not on the agenda Wednesday, but Councilor Rich Kellum called it up at the end of Wednesday’s session. He said it had been drafted only that morning. Kellum voted for it along with Bill Coburn, Floyd Collins and Bessie Johnson. Councilors Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen voted no.

Albany has four or five marijuana dispensaries open to holders of medical marijuana cards. I don’t know if any of them planned to sell recreational pot as well.

The council made no decision on, and didn’t even discuss, a possible ban on recreational marijuana retailers, which the state expects to start licensing some time late in 2016. But Kellum suggested the council may want to consider requiring pot stores to be at least 1,000 feet from schools and other places where children and teenagers hang out. (hh)

In nearby Lebanon, the city council also acted on the marijuana issue Wednesday. Mayor Paul Aziz told me the council voted to allow medical dispensaries in Lebanon and directed the staff and city attorney to work on regulations. The council also voted to ban recreational marijuana stores, as Sweet Home and Brownsville have done, and this ban will be in effect until the city’s voters either confirm or overturn it in a referendum in the 2016 general election, as the legislature provided. (hh)

26 responses to “Albany: No recreational sales at medical pot dispensaries”

  1. Delfina H Hoxie says:

    Nice of you to let the public know about you were going to vote tonight. You made it impossible for anyone to object. Hopefully the people of Albany will vote you out in the next election.

  2. Bob Woods says:

    If people can drive to Corvallis or Eugene for a football game, they can drive to buy their weed. Or take the bus.

    It’s a victory without substance.

  3. Jim Engel says:

    And the “street vendors” will continue to march! Does the Council think this M-J issue has only recently started up??! There’s been a bumper crop of the stuff since I got here in ’71. They’re shooting themselves in both feet by not allowing the sales & getting tax money on it. YET…not a word about eliminating sources of alcohol. Do I recognize shades of some of our Council being hypocrites here??…JE

  4. James Carrick says:

    Opportunity lost. This could have served as a sort of test of recreational sales so the council could then determine just what they want their recreational outlet policy to be based on the empirical evidence that might have been gained, but no……… This bunch (I wonder how many of the ‘no votes’ imbibe alcohol from time to time) would rather ignore the people of Oregon and stand on their morals? Give me a break.

    Meanwhile, as has been suggested previously in a recent posting by Hasso, people will be flocking to Corvallis to get their weed legally, or continuing to buy it underground. The one group that this council has pleased, without doubt, are those that supply the underground market. Who loses? The citizens of Albany, who might benefit from reasonable taxes on legal sales. This decision is dripping in hypocrisy.

    Kudos to Kopczynski and Olsen for their stance. As for the rest, and Konopa (her stance is well known though she only has a vote as a tie-breaker), you all need to look in the mirror. The mess you’ve all made of this simple issue is not making you look good at all. Seems you’ve squandered a great opportunity (complete with a sunset date) to try something, see how it goes, and formulate a solution and/or policy. Too damned logical for this crew and their “Reefer Madness” mentality.

  5. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    A missed opportunity, for sure.

    The city uses its resources to push an alcohol-fueled Library Uncorked event to fund “free” library cards for non-resident kids. Booze to help out-of-town kids. Kind of a head-scratcher, but I like the intent.

    I assume that expanding the fund raiser and hosting a Library Fired Up is now out of the question.

    Clearly, some drugs are more equal than others in Albany. At least we know which drug is at the top of the heap when it comes to city government.

  6. Canna Clatch - Altruistic StrainHunters says:

    And so the gentlemen in the picture amble off to the local elks club or outright bar and have a celebratory libation in the name of moral success.

    In case you haven’t been keeping your eyes open, southern oregon has an endemic meth issue and has one of the most long standing underground cannabis communities.

    what a missed opportunity to mitigate both issues to some degree and let the city capitalize on taxes.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      The two gentlemen in the picture are friends… one on each side of this particular question. We agree and we disagree and we recognize that the other has a different opinion, we probably agree on 80+ percent of stuff.

      As to your worrying about Meth vs Mj. If anything legalizing MJ might well make meth and Heroin sold more because the the Drug Dealers would have fewer things to sell so they would push those products more…..

      • Wyatt King says:

        “legalizing MJ might well make meth and Heroin sold more because the the Drug Dealers would have fewer things to sell so they would push those products more…..”

        Councilman Kellum, with due respect, that argument shows either a fundamental misconception of how economics works or a complete willingness to blatantly lie to the community you are supposed to represent.

        Please explain how these dealers are going to “push more” once they no longer have access to people just trying to get marijuana. Who will they be selling to? People who are already looking for the harder drugs. All they can do is compete over a finite market (driving down prices and pushing many out of business. Do you expect them to start advertising downtown? “Meth Blowout! Come on down to 333 3rd street and see why heroin is right for you!” Not only is your whole premise asinine, but it ignores the clear economics of a “business” losing its largest source of income. If we were to invent a way to make low cost fast food at home, do you expect McDonald’s to be able to survive by pushing McFlurries? No. Dealers will lose their bread & butter source of revenue and the entire back market will shrink.

        Opening up legal access to marijuana undercuts the black market and removes access to illegal drugs. There will always be a black market as long as people want things that are illegal, but taking marijuana away from drug dealers will lead to substantially less dealers being able to compete over a substantially reduced market- one that will be smaller than it currently is and will have far less ability to grow.

        Please show me where my logic is wrong (with something concrete), profess a misunderstanding of how economics works (a worrisome lack of knowledge for someone tasked with guiding a community’s growth), or let a lack of answer stand as the closest thing we’ll get to an admission that you don’t care what you say if it leads to the results you want.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          Wyatt, it is Pretty simple economics, If you sell cookies, Ice Cream and cake and you run out of cake you will try to sell what you have left or find something else to sell.

          As to knowledge of sales and motivation, I have been in business for 31 years…… selling

          How about you..

          • James Carrick says:

            Rich, truthfully….you are conflating a legitimate business, such as yours, with practices in an illicit activity you obviously have no experience with. So here are some “pretty simple economics” for you: If legal marijuana is taxed too highly, or the prices of legal weed is too high, the so-called (very well established) black market will CONTINUE to thrive just as it has the past 50+ years. Remember, the black market has no storefront to maintain, rent to pay, overhead, insurance, licensing, utilities, employees and all that goes with that, and on and on…..and they will lower their prices to maintain their market share. Pretty simple economics, isn’t it?

            One more thing. I would say MOST illegal drug dealers specialize in just one item for sale. There may be higher level “distributors” that might offer more than one substance to the street level dealers they sell to, but by and large, most pot dealers just sell pot. It’s how they have minimized their exposure to law enforcement for many years. If they get their fingers in too many pies, their exposure is MUCH higher. Your argument above takes none of this into account.

  7. Ray Kopczynski says:

    IMO, some folks obviously were privy to the information forthcoming at the “councilor comments” portion of the meeting last night. Frankly, I felt sandbagged, but hey – that’s politics…

  8. Bob Woods says:

    Calm down folks. This comes under the heading of a minor annoyance.

    On the other hand, it’s really heartening to see the radical right complaining that the council is missing an opportunity to get more taxes. Que sera,sera!

    • James Carrick says:

      The radical right? Bob, give us a break. You obsession with anyone to your right is SO obvious. You are the one that seems to enjoy taxation and all the “benefits” of big government. And since when did the “radical right” support a relaxation of marijuana laws? That would be a first. Most of us are better labeled “libertarians” since you’re into labels Mr. Radical Left Wing.

      The voters of this state SPOKE. You have a problem with that, BOB? This council is in denial and riding some moral high horse while ignoring the “legal” (and far more destructive) substances…alcohol and tobacco….which do far more damage to society than pot ever has, or could. You are as much a hypocrite as this council, which we all know can do no wrong by your far left standards.

      • Bob Woods says:

        Carrick: “The citizens of Albany, who might benefit from reasonable taxes on legal sales. This decision is dripping in hypocrisy. ”

        Libertarians pushing a new tax. What a novel idea. You can’t run from your hypocrisy James.

        And if you weren’t so focused on defending your hypocrisy, you’d know that I don’t have any problem with the new law. I voted for it. Prohibition had done much more damage to lives than the drug itself.

        • James Carrick says:

          Woods: I’m not “pushing” for any new taxes. That’s your thing. I was merely pointing out that this city council, which never met a tax it didn’t like, could be squandering a taxing opportunity……..and because your quote of me left out the question posed, you are subverting my view to suit your own argument.

          Bob, you don’t even live here (thank God) so why is it so important for you to insert yourself into Albany matters?

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Assuming the council can convince voters to approve a marijuana tax. There is a local initiative petition being organized to ensure voters have the final say on taxes and fees. You’d know this if you lived in Albany.

      • Wyatt King says:

        Any local tax has to be approved by voters. You’d know this if you read HB3400.

        • Gordon L. Shadle says:

          Thanks for the education on HB3400. But in October 2014 the city approved a 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana. Given HB3400 was signed in June 2015, is the city grandfathered in?

          It will be interesting to see if the city decides to collect on this pre-HB3400 tax.

  9. Rich Kellum says:

    This does not ban smoking in your own home, It does not keep anyone from going to Corvallis, it does not keep Albany from getting the tax that will be split up by population to begin with.
    All the medical dispensaries that came before the council told the council last year that they didn’t want to sell rec mj that they only wanted to do Medical pot… unless they were lying that means that there is not a problem….

    what this really does is give us the time to do the work to insure the safety of kids……..

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “It does not keep anyone from going to Corvallis…”
      And yet folks are saying the sky will be falling because of all the impaired drivers this will add to the highways — so Albany wants to create more of the problem by forcing them onto the road. Nice consequence…

      “…it does not keep Albany from getting the tax that will be split up by population to begin with.”
      No taxes will be collected from 10/1 through 12/31 this year — as per OLCC…

      “All the medical dispensaries that came before the council told the council last year that they didn’t want to sell rec mj that they only wanted to do Medical pot… unless they were lying that means that there is not a problem….”
      Yes , a year ago, we went through this process with the only two trying to get established. At that time, both of them said they weren’t interested in doing recreational. (We now have 4 dispensaries in Albany.) I was very strongly then (and now) advocating for them to be allowed to get their businesses established — and as you stated, “…no mushroom clouds have appeared…” I also urged them to consider that when & if the OLCC allowed dispensaries to sell recreational mj, they *should* consider it — as it was going to be an opportunity to expand their business in-place vs. having to go out and acquire additional space, etc. OLCC has now presented that opportunity.

      “what this really does is give us the time to do the work to insure the safety of kids……”
      That is serious head-in-the sand thinking IMO. Right now, ANY jr. high/high school kid can score some weed faster than they can get a bottle of booze — with all the current regulations in place. Exactly how will stifling entrpreneurs in Albany by trying to zone retail mj stores differently than bars, taverns, breweries, & dispensaries change that in any way, shape, or form?? It will be a pure “feel good” ordinance that will do absolutely nothing to help the “safety of the kids.”

      Albany welcomes the liquor licenses and everything those businesses bring. MJ is different how?? Provincialism & hypocrisy are rampant right here in River City… Strike up the band!

      • Dick Olsen says:

        Thank you Ray for expressing our views on the silly ordinance proposed to the council on trying to limit the use of marijuana in Albany. I agree 100%. Thanks also to those of you who appreciated my no vote on this. Prohibition of alcohol in the 20s glamorized drinking and was a major blessing for organized crime. When alcohol prohibition was finally lifted it was blue-nosed church goers and organized crime who opposed it most vigorously. They made strange bed fellows.

      • Wyatt King says:

        Thank you for saying this. I hope you keep fighting for Albany’s people and I am glad Albany has you.

    • James Carrick says:

      And it will NOT put a single, small dent in the underground market. Rich…you just don’t get it. I’m no liberal, and I’m as conservative (perhaps more so) as you on most any other issue, but you’re DEAD wrong on this.

      You are a victim of the “Reefer Madness” mentality. I speak from personal experience. Let’s you and me get together sometime. I don’t use any more, but I can surely get you into some good smoke and then YOU can speak from experience. You can get FAR more “under the influence” from alcohol than pot. This I KNOW. But you’re hung up on almost a century of laws that deny this fact.

      IF you are so concerned about our “kids”…your goal should be to eradicate the underground market which will continue to pay NO attention to your rules, regulation, or taxes, or SETBACKS. I watch the city council meetings online EVERY time. That’s your issue? You are almost guaranteeing the opposite of what you desire because you simply don’t understand how the pot market works. And these “sales” will continue to supply those kids you’re rightly concerned about. I’m not in favor of kids having unrestricted access to pot but good lord, your approach almost guarantees it.

      Rich, lets get together sometime over some adult beverage and I will tell you what is really happening in this town where I grew up and where several of my old Albany schoolmates have made so much money you can’t even believe it. I’ll buy.

  10. Dick Olsen says:

    If you want to see how ridiculous this pot thing is, google William Randolf Hearst and the criminalization of marijuana.

  11. Gabe Wigtil says:

    The voters of Albany voted in favor of Measure 91: 9,545 to 9,121 (https://goo.gl/G2VnRM). I recognize that these are slightly different issues being discussed, but perhaps that statistic (taken in the democratic context in which it arose) should provide the councilors with some backing for making wise policy here.

  12. Gabe Wigtil says:

    Hello, I was just alerted to an error in my calculations. I saw that I inadvertently missed one of the precincts, 089, in my tallying. (I got my list of precincts literally by walking into the Linn County clerks office and asking to see a precinct map – they were for sale for $4, but I just wrote down the list of those precincts in the City of Albany and may have accidentally missed precinct 089.) I have fixed the spreadsheet (http://goo.gl/G2VnRM – though, the outcome is still the same Yes- 9,767 to No- 9,393).

    I have generated the Ward subtotals. They are on the same spreadsheet, to the right of the existing columns. Summary: Wards 1 and 2 approved the measure, Ward 3 did not.

    Please let me know if you see any other errors, or would like any other summaries of the data. – gwigtil (at) gmail.com


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