On pot, what yes and no will mean – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On pot, what yes and no will mean

Written July 14th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
Albany City Hall, where marijuana discussions seemingly never end.

Albany City Hall, where marijuana discussions seemingly never end.

As you know, recreational marijuana sales will be on the ballots of several jurisdictions in Linn County in the general election. Here’s a cautionary note: If you want recreational cannabis sales to be allowed, which they’re not now, you’re going to have to vote “no.”

There’s nothing underhanded about this. State law requires that in counties like Linn, the local bans on commerce in recreational pot adopted last year have to be put on the ballot this Nov. 8.  So Albany will ask voters: “Shall the city of Albany prohibit recreational marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers within the city limits?” A little more wordily, Linn County puts it this way: “Shall Linn County prohibit establishment of retail marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers in the unincorporated areas of Linn County?” Millersburg, for another example, also asks whether it “shall prohibit” the four activities regarding recreational grass, and in addition it asks whether it should ban medical marijuana processors and dispensaries.

So again, if you don’t want this business in your county or your town (in the towns where bans have been enacted), you’re going to vote yes. On the other side, as a slogan, “Vote no for recreational sales” may sound perplexing. And depending on what they have smoked, some voters may be confused over this, but it can’t be helped.

The proposed ballot language I have seen from Albany, Linn County and — in a legal ad Thursday — from Millersburg, also points out that if the local bans are upheld, the local governments will continue to be shut out from a share of taxes on statewide recreational cannabis sales.

Albany, by the way, in November also plans to ask voters to approve a 3 percent local tax on recreational marijuana sales. And other towns probably will do so too. (In Benton County, Philomath is one example.) That will be a straightforward question for or against imposing the tax. So people hoping for local revenue from recreational sales will have to cast opposing votes on two related marijuana measures: “No” on the ban and “yes” on the tax.

The Albany council is waiting to put its measures on the ballots until the last possible moment. The city worries that once the measures are officially pending, the city staff will be unable, under state rules against arguing for or against election issues on the public’s dime, to freely discuss the other marijuana ordinance the council is considering. This measure, which will not go to the voters, would tighten up on where marijuana businesses could go if voters allow them.

Three council members and the mayor have been talking up these “time, place and manner” restrictions, which also would apply to dispensaries, not just retail stores. They have said they like a map, prepared by the city staff, which shows very few possible “dispensary/sale locations” once the various city codes and proposed additional restrictions are applied.

More restrictions? Well, Albany law now says dispensaries must be 300 feet from residential parcels, but this does not apply to dispensaries in industrial zones. The talked-about change would drop the industrial exemption and spell out how the 300 feet are measured.

Observers like me are wondering why added restrictions are necessary since the present medical dispensary regulations seem to have worked fine. And the state has already adopted a ton of regulations on licensed recreational marijuana businesses. The state regs cover the hours, regulate lighting and signs, ban odors and sales to minors and on-site use, require security, and regulate advertising, among other things.

Corvallis has had recreational pot businesses since the state allowed them. And for some reason that nobody can explain, the city is still there. (hh)

The map liked by a majority of the Albany council:.

Marijuana Use Map – Map 3 (2)

6 responses to “On pot, what yes and no will mean”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    The really funny thing about this is that marijuana has been readily accessible and available for the last 50 years.

    Vote how you want. It will be available no matter what you vote. It all comes down to whether you want to collect new revenue from marijuana users.

  2. Jim Engel says:

    I’ll harp on it again. Why isn’t our Council similarly restrictive on sales/consumption of alcoholic beverages if they profess to want to shield the populace from decadent harm?! Just make us a dry & smokeless town like Monmouth by decree & be done with it. JE

  3. Cheryl P says:

    First of all, “And depending on what they have smoked…..” is a pretty asinine statement to make.

    Second, the Mayor needs to be voted out of office for failing to abide by the will of the people…who voted to allow Recreational Marijuana Sales in the first place.

  4. HowlingCicada says:

    Do some good by impeding a socially corrosive vice. Outlaw the sale of lottery tickets. Target population: those who don’t have the mobility or motivation to go to a distant casino, but who slowly and unthinkingly fritter away the money that should feed their kids or pay the rent.

    Another idea: outlaw all display and promotion of tobacco and nicotine products, maybe raise the age limit to 21. Target: young people who stand a much better chance of being lifelong tobacco-free if they avoid it during a few, critical years when they depend so strongly on the social milieu for decision making, a fact not lost on the evil tobacco cabal.

    Compared to gambling-tobacco-alcohol, pot is a relatively benign vice and is handled well by existing state law and the willingness of the state to make adjustments as needed.

    No judgment about whether or not government should interfere with free enterprise, just a plea for better priorities if they do.

    • centrist says:

      An interesting proposition indeed.
      Both the lottery proceeds and the tobacco taxes are revenue producers. Seems to me that there’s a co-dependent relationship between the consumers and the State that will be hard to resolve.
      For what it’s worth, “the evil tobacco cabal” disbanded long ago to get into other growth markets (like food).
      I’m still unsettled on the pot issue. My work experience is that when the layabout obstructive malcontents failed the UA (which the local union negotiated into the contract), safety and morale improved almost immediately. Seemed as though we gained two employees for each one who left.

      • hj.anony1 says:

        Howling, excellent ideas. Should be voted on immediately. Common sense says Yes.

        Wondering about a third….Alcohol. What to corral the liquid. Maybe outlaw AB InBev?


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