A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Opposites on grass as well

Written October 31st, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Linn County plans to enact a ban on recreational marijuana commerce next week

Linn County plans to enact a ban on recreational marijuana commerce next week

Once again we see the contrast between Linn and Benton counties, this time in the official attitude toward marijuana regulation. Linn County is about to make use of the option it has under state law to ban commerce in weed. Benton County is doing the opposite, preparing to amend its land use code to make sure people can grow the stuff on land zoned for farming once the state licenses them to do so.

The proposed Benton amendments are up for a public hearing in Corvallis Tuesday (noon in the commissioners’ meeting room,  205 NW Fifth St.) The Benton commissioners’ attitude was expressed in their announcement of the hearing. They are “looking to be proactive in identifying any potential issues to ensure that the proper zones for marijuana-related commercial activities are identified to reduce adverse impacts on neighborhoods and communities while allowing local entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in this newly legalized commercial industry. The goal is to have a code that could perhaps be loosened over time, when it’s reasonable.”

In Albany, by contrast, the Linn commissioners have a hearing Monday morning (10 o’clock at the courthouse) on an ordinance to ban any licensed growing, processing, wholesaling or retailing of recreational marijuana anywhere in the unincorporated areas of the county. As required by law. that ban, once adopted, must be submitted to the voters in the 2016 general election. The Linn board plans to act on the ban Tuesday.

Not to be left out, the Albany City Council scheduled a special work session for 7:15 Monday night at City Hall to discuss its marijuana options. As outlined by Assistant City Attorney Sean Kidd, the options range from doing nothing to banning various weed operations or transactions. One of the options would have the city ban recreational retail stores, subject to a referendum next fall, while repealing Albany’s ban on recreational sales at medical pot dispensaries. The various options all have different tax implications (too convoluted to explain here.)

Even though they are close neighbors, Linn and Benton counties have long trended in opposite directions, especially in politics. The contrast continues on weed, but you have to wonder what Linn officials hope to gain by trying to clamp down on a now-legal substance so freely available across the county line. (hh)

5 responses to “Opposites on grass as well”

  1. Debbie Swenson says:

    There are many unintended consequences with this law. I think it prudent and wise to learn from the states of WA and CO before jumping into anything. Let us learn the pitfalls and repercussions first, then inform the voters and see if the pros outnumber the cons.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Whenever I see someone “informing” or “educating” voters or the public generally, my mind automatically substitutes “selling” or “propagandizing.”

  2. James Carrick says:

    Reefer madness continues almost unabated in much of Oregon despite, or because of the wording of Measure 91. It makes no sense to make a substance legal, yet restrict its sale and production according to local whims and politics.

    It will be legal to possess weed statewide while its commercial production and retailing will look like a patchwork quilt as counties and municipalities establish individual regulations. I should think government bodies that prohibit sales/production will not benefit from tax revenues generated in other jurisdictions. Will that be the case? And how will anyone be able to distinguish “legally purchased and taxed” weed from it’s counterpart on the black market? What a mess.

    The OLCC should have been charged with the sale of pot statewide, just as in the sale of (far more damaging) alcohol at their outlets, with tax revenues distributed according to regional sales. A simple, regulated sale of a taxed, legal substance. Instead, the net result will be that the black market will continue to thrive, just as it has for so many years.

    Leave it to government to screw things up yet again. It’s the one thing government is consistently good at….screwing things up. This should have been easy.

  3. HowlingCicada says:

    Would a visitor from Mars be dumbstruck upon learning that the dominant political party and attitude in Linn County is one which favors “free enterprise” and “less government intervention” with much the opposite for Benton County?

    Perhaps the proper conclusion is that principles mean little, and that prejudices and kinship mean much more. Both sides, everywhere, every issue.

  4. George Pugh says:

    Mr. Carrick brings up a point I’ve wondered about ever since the initiative was introduced; how will any enforcement distinguish among commercially produced and taxed, legally home-grown, and black market grass ? While I suspect the snob whiffers will defer to the boutique weed, I would guess that the general market will head for the low cost producer and product. And will the black market become the new bootleggers and be tracked down by the “‘revenuers?”
    History is a curious thing.


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