A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Planning panel opposes pot amendment

Written January 28th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Marijuana seized by the state police.

Marijuana seized by the state police.

The city council’s attempt to keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of Albany once state rules allowing them take effect in March may have hit a bump. On Monday night, the city planning commission recommended against a proposed change in the city development code intended to ban dispensaries but seemingly banning all pot.
The change, as proposed by the city council, would have the city ban the use of any parcel of land or structure “for, or in  conjunction with, an activity that violates any state or federal law prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, dispensation or possession of any controlled substance” as defined in federal law.” The language appears to ban not just marijuana stores but also the use of medical marijuana itself anywhere in town.

The land use amendment had been proposed by four members of the city council after Councilor Bessie Johnson raised the issue, saying she wanted to keep dispensaries out of the city.

Monday’s hearing lasted nearly three hours and drew an audience estimated at nearly 100 at the start. More than two dozen testified, all but three opposed to the amendment. At the end the commission’s vote to recommend denying the proposed amendment was unanimous.

“Now it’s back in our bailiwick,” said City Councilman Ray Kopczynski, an opponent of the ban sought by the council majority. The city council could go against the planning commission recommendation and approve the code amendment anyway. A public hearing before the council is scheduled on Feb 26. (hh)


6 responses to “Planning panel opposes pot amendment”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “The city council could go against the planning commission recommendation and approve the code amendment anyway.”

    True enough… However, that is a dangerous (IMO) route to take simply because of the legal costs to the city that will undoubtedly follow.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      In referring to the risk of enacting the amendment, Councilman Kopczynski may be referring to the costs of defending an appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals. On the face of it, if logic prevailed, the city would likely lose such an appeal because using medical marijuana cannot truthfully be considered a land use. It has nothing to do with land use as commonly understood. (hh)

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Given unanimous opposition, should each commission member be looking over their shoulder in fear of retribution by the mayor and some councilors? Given how David Faller was stabbed in the back, such fear would be understandable.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I don’t know, but considering the arduous and thankless chore that constitutes service on the planning commission, members might be relieved if they are not reappointed when their terms run out. (Not suggesting that this could or would happen.) (hh)

  3. Chuck Leland says:

    Reading in the Sunday Oregonian column by Elizabeth Hoyde titled “Inhale legalization cautiously.” The entire subject of legalizing and growing pot / marijuana seems a quagmire of opportunities for bad decisions. I view titling as recreational use misleading. I accept the position that pot is no worse than alcohol with one exception. I don’t see users having a casual, non-inhibiting “toke” or joint after work in the quiet of their home before dinner. Rather I think minors will abuse, addicts will drive, workers will be impaired and medical costs associated with pot use continue to increase. I don’t think there is such a ting as a casual user as in a casual drinker.

    I do think the criminal aspects of pot use would (be) ameliorated and the major crime arena would become less devastating, but is that where we want to go?

    Elizabeth can be reached at oregonlive.com/hovde. I don’t know if it’s worth trying to contact me on the subject but I’ll keep reading what you all write.

    PS – I don’t have a good opinion about medical use of marijuana either. I watched my significant other die from cancer and her use of pot didn’t really seem to help in the middle of the night when she woke up screaming in pain.

    • Greg Bechtel says:

      Mr. Leland,
      I’m sorry for your loss. There have been incredible strides made in the medical uses of marijuana. Just this last week, Israel was about to produce a strain that was, if memory serves, almost 16% CBD and only 1% THC (no high, almost all medicine). Rick Simpson Oil has been making headlines all over Colorado for it’s incredible effects on cancer without the devastating side effects of Chemotherapy. My father always said to me “If the cancer doesn’t get you, chemo will”.

      My sincerest apologies that our federal governments ignorance and adherence to draconian processes prevented your significant other from potentially getting the right kind of medication that may have prolonged her life. Bear in mind, when marijuana is no longer a Schedule I drug, the FDA can start accepting clinical trials for the capsules and salves we already have available. As long as the federal government says marijuana is as dangerous as meth, we will never be able to have true pharmaceutical trials and availability in mainstream pharmacies. We’re hoping the 20 states that have legalized and the 6 states that have decriminalized will be enough of a message for this administration to re-evaluate this potential wonder drug. I won’t hold my breath though.

      Now, I do have to comment on the idea that all users of marijuana are chronic smokers who smoke themselves into a stupor. A gentleman who presented before the planning commission named George came straight out and said “I am technically under the influence right this minute, but I am as coherent and grounded as anyone on this panel” (I’m paraphrasing, but his point remains the same).

      I see this stigma all the time about marijuana users. The idea that those of us that ingest marijuana (either via smoking or “medibles”) do so to make ourselves incapable of functioning simply isn’t the case. Often, in the evenings before dinner, if my legs are aching, I’ll eat a snack or smoke a small amount. The absorption is much quicker if you have an empty stomach. I tend to my pain, have a nice dinner with my wife and daughter, then we do family things. I am not chained to the couch, unable to hold a conversation because I’m too stoned.

      I am not an anomaly. I will continue to shout from the rooftops that the idea that all people who use marijuana are criminals/low-lifes/potheads/drains on society, etc is outdated, easily disproved, and DANGEROUS to believe. If you live in Albany, you’ve probably seen a “tweaker” or two. Looking at these people high on prescription medication should be enough for me to label ALL users of prescription medication as “tweakers”, but labeling entire groups based on the behavior of a few has never served this or any other society well.

      Bad apples? Of course. Bad bushel? No sir. I served my country honorably, was an Air Force Honor Guard Trainer, was awarded 11 citations during my enlistment (3 of which were AF Achievement Medals, 3 were AF Commendation Medals). I’ve owned 3 businesses prior to AAHS. I am a member of the community, tax-payer, father, friendly neighbor, meticulous lawn-groomer, and a smoker/ingestor of marijuana daily. I’m just a normal guy who refuses Big Pharma to deal with my pain (been there, done that, no thanks).

      I am in that bushel and I am not an anomaly.

      Greg Bechtel
      Chief Financial Officer, AAHS


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