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:.