A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany pot: Looking for ‘reasonable’

Written December 5th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
From left: Councilors Kellum, Kopczynski and Collins, Manager Hare, Mayor Konopa, Attorney Sean Kidd.

From left: Councilors Kellum, Kopczynski and Collins, Manager Hare, Mayor Konopa, Attorney Sean Kidd at Monday’s council session..

Albany’s city charter requires four votes on the city council for any action. Twice now, the second time on Monday, Councilman Dick Olsen has made himself scarce, preventing the enactment of severe restrictions on the possible location of recreational marijuana businesses, limits that he opposes. The deadlock may continue until the council finds a reasonable way out.

Three council members have favored an ordinance containing the restrictions, and three were opposed. If they all voted, Mayor Sharon Konopa would break the tie and enact the restrictions, which would bar recreational pot commerce from almost all possible sites in town. When Olsen didn’t show on Nov. 14, the ordinance failed on a vote of three yes and two no. When his chair remained empty again Monday, the result would have been the same, so no vote was even taken. Councilor Bessie Johnson was also gone, on vacation, but she participated via telephone.

Councilor Floyd Collins and the mayor grumbled about obstruction and “intentionally subverting” the council deliberation. But Ray Kopczynski, like Olsen an opponent of the restrictions, said this was the only way for two of them to uphold the wishes of the Albany electorate in the November election, which voted against a council ban on recreational pot commerce by a vote of 15,335 to 9,269.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is preparing to license recreational pot retailers next month, but applicants must first show they meet local land use codes. Three of Albany’s four medical marijuana dispensaries have asked the city for a “land use compatibility statement” so they can be licensed as recreational stores, but the city has held up providing the statement while the council still wrangling over its proposed restrictions. If the council passes nothing, the applicants will meet land use rules, and the OLCC will start processing their applications, probably right after the first of the year.

During Monday’s lengthy council discussion, it dawned on members that maybe it was not a good idea to lump all four categories of pot commerce — growing, processing, wholesale and retail — in the same restrictive ordinance. There was talk of maybe rewriting the draft ordinance with separate sections for each of the four categories. The mayor asked the staff to provide, by Wednesday’s council meeting, information on the regulation of outdoor grows.

Here’s another suggestion, from an editorial standpoint: State law allows cities to make “reasonable” rules about the time, manner and place of recreational marijuana businesses. But how about treating these upstart businesses, already heavily regulated by the OLCC licensing process, as regular businesses? They would the be subject to city rules on land use, parking, fire safety, noise, odor, lighting, signage, hours and various other  things, the same as every other business. Producers would be limited to areas where agriculture is allowed. Processors and wholesalers could go in zones meant for those lines of business. And retailers could set up in retail zones if they can build or find a space.

Wouldn’t that be the most reasonable approach? (hh)

12 responses to “Albany pot: Looking for ‘reasonable’”

  1. Ginny Jordan says:

    I certainly hope that the council members and mayor read and adopt your reasonable language as you have outlined it here! Thank you Hasso!

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Your editorial paragraph certainly would be the most common sense – and reasonable! (ANY place you could site a 7-11 or a tavern would be good start…)

  3. John Hartman says:

    The Council’s anti-democratic display is stunning.

    Led by Mary Poppins, the Council seems to believe the Yellow Brick Road leading into Albany must be swept clean to prevent moral collapse. The real threat here is not marijuana, but the Council’s refusal to do the will of the people. There are several governments around the globe who refuse to recognize their own citizens. We call those governments authoritarian and unrepresentative. Albany’s elected leadership claims to do the wishes of the people, but it is clear that the claim is undeniably false.

  4. John Hartman says:

    Albany City Government

    1. Supposed to be of the people.
    2. Supposed to be by the people.
    3. Supposed to reflect the will of the people.
    4. Only supports 1 through 3 when it suits the Council.

  5. Cheryl P says:

    “Councilor Floyd Collins and the mayor grumbled about obstruction and “intentionally subverting” the council deliberation.”

    But isn’t that EXACTLY what you folks are doing? Because of your PERSONAL bias against the legalization of recreational marijuana, you are using your positions to obstruct and intentionally subvert the will of the people by enacting ordinances that would make the LEGAL growing, processing, wholesale distribution and retail sale of recreational marijuana impossible. And in doing so, will ensure the ILLEGAL growing, processing, whole distribution and retail sale of it.

    You people are idiots!

  6. Tony White says:

    The City Council seems to be taking their cue from the last federal administration. Rather than enacting the will of the People they are intent on directing the moral values of the same. The result will likely be similar: a new People’s revolution. When they are all out of office, perhaps our city government will return to sanity.

  7. John Hartman says:

    The Council’s inactions are a slow lynching of American values.

  8. Cindy Crawford says:

    After witnessing firsthand the benefits of cannabis in its many forms, how can the council continue to drag their feet on such an important issue? Do they want people to continue to be in pain? Are they afraid all the legal businesses will somehow become a gateway to other things? Step into the light for a change, this will bring legal revenue, help so many folks with chronic health issues, and allow those that were jailed to be freed. It makes a LOT of common sense, the way you put it, Hasso. Regulate it separately, but make it so!

    • Hasso Hering says:

      As for medicinal pot, the council’s deliberations lately have not involved medical dispensaries as such, only to the extent that any dispensary wants to get a license as a recreational store. Theoretically, this has nothing to do with people with OMMP cards suffering in pain because they can’t get medical marijuana. (hh)


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