A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Don’t backtrack on dispensary law

Written January 23rd, 2014 by Hasso Hering
The state police released this photo of marijuana seized Thursday.

The state police released this photo of marijuana seized Thursday.

The illegal trade in marijuana flourishes in Oregon, as shown by the steady pace of arrests for selling, transporting or possessing quantities of weed. The legislature tried to cut into at least part of that business but is getting push-back from local governments unmoved — despite a half century of experience — by the failure of pot prohibition.
With some regularity, the Oregon State Police stop someone on Interstate 5 for speeding or some other violation and then find a bunch of pot in the car. Another report like that came out Thursday. An early-morning traffic stop on Interstate 5 near Wilsonville led to the arrest of a man from California for having about 9 pounds of marijuana, hashish and “other evidence.” This is routine now.

The Oregon legislature last year tried to cut into the illegal marijuana business at least a little by authorizing the state Health Authority to license legal dispensaries of medical marijuana. Dispensaries won’t end the activities of criminals, but at least they would give medical users a legal and easy way to get marijuana. No more trying to grow it themselves and be tempted to grow a little extra for outside income. No more dealing with suppliers for whom the lure of quick riches proves too great.

Albany, Jefferson and other towns are trying to thwart the legislature’s good intent by banning dispensaries. Now two legislators want to make it easy for local government to do just that. The Oregonian reports that two senators, Democrat Rod Monroe of Portland and Republican Bill Hansell of Athena in northeastern Oregon, are introducing a bill to grant cities and counties the right to ban dispensaries. Let’s hope the legislature avoids that particular mistake and rejects the bill. It should do the opposite: amend last year’s law to say that cities and counties are preempted from making their own rules in this field. (hh)

5 responses to “Don’t backtrack on dispensary law”

  1. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Albany is trying to enact a much more draconian measure by outright banning ANY possession of marijuana (regardless of it being legally prescribed by a physician) with the proposed land use code change. If it makes it out of the planning commission process, I will very strongly oppose it.

    In addition to the “try and ram it through” proposed legislation in Albany (and now in the state Senate during this short session), the U.S. attorney general has come out stating the feds are going to change laws regarding the banking process;


  2. Jim Engel says:

    It strikes me as a bit of hypocrisy on the part of our city council to turn a blind eye to income from booze and then to prevent dispensaries. Our State has set up a system for implementation with resulting income from license fees & taxes. In preventing dispensaries our city may be open to an expensive lawsuit the cost of defending will be paid for by us taxpayers! JE

  3. Greg Bechtel says:

    Unfortunately for us, the fed’s changes came too late to save our OSU Federal bank account. Despite the fact that we don’t even run a dispensary yet, OSU Federal here in Albany closed our business account. Apparently, my standing up for patients comes with a price and a local bank I signed up with 7 years ago no longer wants to do business with me because I care about patients and am outspoken about it. Oh well, they aren’t the only show in town.

    More to the point, Mr. Kopcza..czi.. Ray is right. The proposed land use code change that will be discussed on January 27th at 5pm at City Hall, according to our attorney, John Lucy out of Portland, will indeed make it unlawful to possess, grow, consume, or give away medical marijuana in Albany.

    Further, there is almost no chance of this regulation surviving a LUBA appeal or a lawsuit, as cities don’t get to pick and choose entire sections of Oregon Revised Statutes to throw out. Sorry Rich and Bessie, you can’t ban marijuana from Albany. This isn’t your kingdom, it’s still a democracy. It’s good to know, however, how ol’ Rich and Bessie feel about patients in the OMMP. People with DEBILITATING illness or CHRONIC pain. Rich and Bessie just want you to pop your bag full of pills at $1000 a month that slowly and steadily kill your body. What’s shaving off another 20 years from your life among friends, right?

    Wrong. Not on my watch.

    Greg Bechtel

  4. George Pugh says:

    As soon as I read or hear the adjective “draconian” I turn the page or tune out. After spending too many hours in Salem hearing rooms I am very jaded to draconian protestations. There just has to be a better way to make an argument.
    Did you have something to say Kopczynski ?

  5. Ray Kopczynski says:

    OK George — Just for you: substitute “stringent” for draconian…


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