A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany pot debate: Another round?

Written April 23rd, 2015 by Hasso Hering
This is where Albany city law says Kanna Kitchen is not allowed.

This is where Albany city law says Canna Kitchen is not allowed.

Albany may be in for yet another council debate about where to allow marijuana stores. It’s coming up partly because Canna Kitchen and Research LLC, which turns medical marijuana into various non-smoking preparations including ointments, would like to move from Ferry Street to an address where it is now prohibited.

Rhea Graham, the owner of the business, which has a state license as a medical marijuana dispensary, would like to buy a house and store combination at 750 Sherman St. S.E. The building, which is for sale, sits across Sherman Street from the Albany American Legion post, next door to a Chinese restaurant, half a block from Pacific Boulevard, and catty-corner from Hackleman Park. Graham would like to live in the residence half of the building and run her business in the other half, a former second-hand store.

But across Seventh Avenue, the zoning is residential. A city ordinance, passed after the legislature legalized dispensaries and later amended to cover all “marijuana facilities,” says such businesses are not allowed within 300 feet of property zoned residential and several other zones. But if a marijuana facility is in an industrial zone — as Canna Kitchen now is — the 300-foot exclusion does not apply.

Graham has asked the council to consider her request, but on Wednesday night, City Manager Wes Hare confirmed that under the present Albany pot ordinance, Graham’s business is barred from moving to the Sherman Street address. This prompted a brief discussion in which, among other things, Councilor Dick Olsen said he had a medical marijuana card and offered to show it to the group. Olsen said the 300-foot exclusion is unfair.

Mayor Sharon Konopa had insisted on the 300 feet because she wants to keep marijuana stores out of neighborhoods. In fact, she said, she would like to repeal the industrial-zone exemption because she got calls when a dispensary moved in at 34th and Lyon, across the street from residences.

City Attorney Jim Delapoer reminded everyone that Albany’s marijuana ordinance was a “home-grown” product and that it could be changed by four votes on the council.

Hare expects the council may indeed revisit the marijuana ordinance. How and when is not clear. But if you’ve seen the Canna Kitchen operation — quiet, law-abiding, harmless in every respect — it’s hard to defend the city law that says the corner of Sherman and Seventh is the wrong place for that kind of store. (hh)

8 responses to “Albany pot debate: Another round?”

  1. Jim Engel says:

    Such rose colored glasses she must have on! Madame Mayor…M-J grows everywhere in the City!!!! At least Canna Kitchen is trying to keep some order in things not the least of which is a bit of tax money. In the home grown we get nadda! Realize the recent up surge in heroin & meth supplies by cartels. They can see the profits in the M-J dwindling thru legalization so they switch products as any supplier would do to keep profits up…! Yes, my reasoning might seem simplistic but so is reality..JE

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Jim makes a good point. LOW COST MJ would take a big chunk out of the market for the “white drugs” and do much less damage to the population.
      That said, I think any recreational drug (including alcohol) should be illegal until one has at least a HS diploma or reaches age of retirement.

  2. randy mitchell says:

    maybe Albany needs a change of mayors?!

  3. James Carrick says:

    “Mayor Sharon Konopa had insisted on the 300 feet ……” Correct me if I’m wrong (semantics, perhaps) but as I understand it, Mayor Konopa is in no REAL position to insist on anything unless it’s through a tie-breaking vote. I might characterize it a bit differently….the Council CAVED to her wishes regarding the 300 foot provision when voting in the ordinance. Ordinances can be changed.

    Canna Kitchen is not a business that is “harmful” to the community or it’s neighbors. They provide a service. They don’t peddle drugs. Isn’t someone on the Council, or perhaps Albany’s well paid city attorney, clever and competent enough to draft regulations that allow this legal business activity? And the Mayor wants to repeal the industrial exemption?

    Sounds like Rhea and company may be forced outside the city limits just to do business. Ridiculous! I agree with Randy above……..maybe we DO need a new Mayor. I’ve never been her fan anyway and this just adds to that conviction.

    Also, kudos to Dick Olsen for “outing” himself as an OMMP card holder. That should destroy a few old stereotypes…at least one can hope.

    The reefer madness hysteria continues…………..

  4. James Carrick says:

    One more thought after reading a February article in the DH…..

    Part of the intent of the law legalizing marijuana was to get it “above board” and to tax it. Regulations such as those in the DH article, and the roadblocks put up by the city only serve to keep pot underground and the result could easily backfire.

    The road to ruin is paved with good intentions. The Council has been salivating over possible revenues and local pot taxes. Be careful what you wish for.

  5. Evelyn Broeffle says:

    I have said this before and I will say it again. The city council needs to poll their constituent’s. If the majority are against it then okay. That is supposed to be what a democracy is about. I, personally, am an OMMP card holder. I support Rhea and her business. What is the city council going to do come July 1st? I listened to Mayor Konopa a year ago when this was first discussed. What I heard was that she very much lives up to the “nopa” part of her name. She does not know, is not interested in knowing and will not even listen to real, true information about marijuana but, I would bet, she enjoys an alcoholic beverage. One is proven to be poison while the other has been proven not to be. I know which I choose. I am tired of Albany City Council sticking their head in the sand. It is bizarre to me that, with so much information out there, that a group of supposedly intelligent individuals can continue to act like if they ignore this issue that it will go away. This aside from the fact that this city NEEDS new and proven profitable business that will not close in six months. Sure they want the revenue but they are totally being NIMBY.

  6. Rhea Graham says:

    I would like to thank each of you for your support, and thank you Hasso for this wonderful article. If you would like to email the city councilors, you can find their email addresses at this link: http://www.cityofalbany.net/city-council You can right-click on their email link and copy the email address if your system is not set up to open your email program. Please be open, honest, and respectful. Do remind them that you are a voting member of society. Please let those who support us know that we (as people and patients) appreciate their support. These other three acting like a police-state of a city council are really getting out of hand. We have alcohol-dispensing businesses licensed at over 130 locations in Albany, over 387 in Linn County, and over 15,000 in the state. Many, many, many of them are right next to residences, across the street from schools, and well within 1000 feet of each other. How many are downtown? I didn’t count, but I know there is one directly across the street from City Hall. Are we, as Cannabis patients being discriminated against? Hell yes we are, and it’s time for that to come to an end. Cannabis cannot kill you, it makes tens of thousands of people healthier each and every day, and our Creator put it here for all of us to use as needed.

    As to emailing the councilors and mayor; you should know: The mayor’s email address currently rejects, but that is what she has listed on their official site. Perhaps she has upgraded from her 1990’s juno account? With all due respect, that would be a step forward to the 21st Century! Momma moved to Comcast early this millennium, she’s 80.

    Also know that we have support from councilors Dick Olsen (Ward 1), Ray Kopczynski (Ward 2), and Bill Coburn (Ward 2). Currently we do NOT have the support of Floyd Collins (Ward 1), Rich Kellum (Ward 3), Bessie Johnson (Ward 3), or the mayor, (who votes in the case of a tie, such as now). We are hoping that now that Dick Olsen has identified himself as a patient, the other councilors will see that it IS very normal to use a plant, and most especially in a smokeless form, to ease pain and bring sleep … and those products whether smoked or not – when sold in a legitimate business, should be sold all over town since they are getting people well instead of causing injury, death, and incarceration – on so many levels. Blessings be, and thank you again. Please keep in touch with us and the councilors and come to city council meetings as needed!

    -For the record, I appeared on 4/20/15 at the scheduled city council work session. I said my piece and was told that I would need to be at the City Council Meeting on 4/22/15 to discuss it further. I was at the meeting on 4/22; our case was not on the agenda so I asked the Mayor about it, and Wes Hare (City Manager) suggested I meet with him … I was led to believe it wouldn’t be heard, so we left. I have an appointment with him tomorrow, 4/28. I’ll let you know how that goes.


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