A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Pot in Albany: Sales ban possible

Written August 10th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
At Monday's work session, from left are Mayor Konopa and Councilors Collins, Olsen, Kopczynski, Coburn, Kellum and Johnson.

At Monday’s work session, from left are Mayor Konopa and Councilors Collins, Olsen, Kopczynski, Coburn, Kellum and Johnson.

If the Albany City Council wants once again to wade into the thicket of marijuana regulation, it can do so under Oregon laws passed this year. Among other things it could ban the sale of recreational marijuana, but the ban would have to be submitted to the voters in the 2016 general election.

Sean Kidd gives the council the details of Oregon marijuana law.

Sean Kidd gives the council the details of Oregon marijuana law.

Assistant City Attorney Sean Kidd gave the council a 10-page rundown Monday of the ins and outs of marijuana law as changed by the 2015 legislature following the passage of Measure 91, which legalized recreational pot. The law is full of wrinkles, and council members said they wanted to study Kidd’s list before deciding whether to attempt any new city regulation.

Albany now has five medical marijuana dispensaries, according to Mayor Sharon Konopa. Asked by Councilor Ray Kopczynski whether this has had an effect on crime, police Capt. Jeff Hinrichs said he was not aware of anything linked to the dispensaries.

The Albany council is prohibited from banning marijuana facilities on its own because Linn and Benton counties did not vote against Measure 91, the legalization initiative last fall, by 55 percent or more. Linn’s vote against the measure was 52 percent, and Benton supported it with 60 percent.

But if Albany passes a ban on facilities and refers it to the voters, as allowed, this would amount to a moratorium and the state would not issue new retail or dispensary licenses until the voters had spoken in November 2016. Existing medical pot dispensaries would be grandfathered if the council adopts a ban on marijuana facilities.

Any local ban would be on facilities such as retail, distribution and grow sites. It would not ban the use or possession of recreational pot by adults in private, as allowed by Measure 91. (This is wrong. See comment and correction below.)

A ban, though, would mean Albany would get none of the revenue from the state’s 17 percent recreational marijuana tax. As for other taxes, unless it imposes a ban, Albany could also impose a 3 percent tax on sales of marijuana items  — but not medical pot — if the voters agree at the next general election. The city’s existing 10 percent pot tax, passed before the 2014 election, appears to be dead.

Medical dispensaries, by the way, can sell recreational pot from this Oct. 1  to  Jan. 3, when licensed retailers presumably take over, and during that period sales will be untaxed.

There’s plenty more in Kidd’s memo, and as he went through it, it looked as though the council was getting dizzy. Bessie Johnson probably expressed everyone’s view when she said she’d like to think about it for a bit before proposing any city action. Floyd Collins made it clear he was not looking forward to any new wave of recreational pot sweeping the city, and he’ll likely recommend the council make use of some of the things it can do. (hh)

11 responses to “Pot in Albany: Sales ban possible”

  1. James Carrick says:

    “Any local ban would be on facilities such as retail, distribution and grow sites”

    By “grow sites” are you referring to an individuals ability to grow their own within the city limits without a OMMP card? Or commercial grow sites….??

  2. Fact Checker says:

    “Medical dispensaries, by the way, can sell recreational pot from this Oct. 1 to Jan. 3, when licensed retailers presumably take over, and during that period sales will be untaxed.”

    According to the OLCC website:

    “Q: Where and when can I buy marijuana?
    A: Limited amounts of recreational marijuana will be available for purchase through medical marijuana dispensaries starting October 1, 2015. Retail stores licensed by the OLCC will open sometime in the second half of 2016.”

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks for the correction. Limited sales of recreational marijuana by medical dispensaries are allowed from Oct. 1, 2015, until Dec. 31, 2016. The period from Oct. 1, 2015, until Jan. 3, 2016, is when it “appears” recreational sales will go untaxed, according to the city attorney’s memo. (hh)

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    It is hard for me to take this council seriously.

    So which intoxicant is more dangerous to society, pot or alcohol? It’s not even close – alcohol.

    This risk should be reflected in local public policy. But it isn’t.

    In fact, our council gave thousands of dollars to help start up a local distillery/brewery (Albany Steamworks). And the council routinely grants liquor licenses to local retailers and food establishments.

    And now some on the council want to put up roadblocks to an alternative, less dangerous, intoxicant?

    City government should just get out of the way. It shouldn’t spend public money to push, nor impose public policy to block, my preferred intoxicant.

    I’m perfectly capable of making my own choices.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      I agree 100% — and have voted so since we worked through the process to allow medical marijuana facilities inside the city limits (of which there are now 5).

      I don’t have a problem with “reasonable” zoning regulations — ala the medical marijuana facilties, but going beyond that and trying to treat the recreational shops differently than any other liquor licensed location is paramount hypocrisy IMO…

      The sky has not, is not, and will not fall when they open…

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Common ground. I like it.

        Now I need to do a better job convincing you that CARA is equally unjust. I will never stop trying to change your mind. Hopefully our future jousting will knock off your blinders.

      • James Carrick says:

        Amen, Ray. On this we agree.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    Pot sales & their curtailment…my gawd contributors, when I first joined APD in 1971 Albany was awash in POT! It was as common on the subjects I dealt with as dandelions in lawns! Very little have I seen in a scaling back the liquor sales! Now there is a move to allow “hard” liquor sales in grocery stores!!! Our council doesn’t turn back any OLCC revenue!

    Owing to having cancer, I find pot does alleviate the side effects. Sorry drug companies, I don’t like your long lasting zombie state. Face the realities City Council, have modest restrictions, but putting bans on will just keep the “black market” thriving!! …. JE

    • Rhea Graham says:

      It seems crazy to me that they would kick that tax revenue to the curb … the revenue that could pave these POT holes they call streets in this dear city we call home.

  5. Richard Lemmon says:

    Citizens have spoken. The law passed. Why does the City Council think they can interfere with the majority of people that voted them into office? Probably not a good idea at re-election time.
    BTW I work for an employer that follows Federal laws that reflect marijuana as illegal. they follow D.O.T. random drug testing guidelines. I have no dog in this fight. I would be foolish to risk my job for whatever marijuana has to offer.


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