A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Pot issue still occupies mayor, council

Written May 11th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Mayor Konopa, left, wants the council to keep pot shops 300 feet from residential areas.

Mayor Konopa, presiding over Monday’s council session, wants to keep pot shops 300 feet from residential areas.

Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa is determined to keep marijuana shops — medical and otherwise — at least 300 feet from residential zones, and she seems to be counting on three council members to help her do that. What’s hard to see is how this matters much when starting July 1, all adults in Oregon will be entitled to grow a little pot of their own and keep small amounts for personal use.

At Monday’s work session of the city council, the mayor repeated earlier hints that she’d like to repeal a provision that allows “marijuana facilities” anywhere in Albany’s industrial zones. She would like to keep pot shops in industrial zones at least 300 feet away from neighborhoods, the same as in commercial and similar zones. And she believes she could get three council members to vote that way, giving her the chance to provide the fourth vote to carry the day.

This comes up because Canna Kitchen and Research LLC, a state-licensed dispensary on industrial property on Ferry Street, would like to move to a combination house-and-shop at 750 Sherman St. S.E., across the street from the American Legion and next door to a Chinese restaurant.

The current city code, amended last year, does not allow this because the property is within 300 feet of houses across Seventh Avenue. Rhea Graham, who operates Canna, asked the council again on Monday for a variance from the 300-foot exclusion zone. But the code does not allow for variances, and a change in the ordinance would be needed. That would take four votes, but only three councilors — Dick Olsen, Ray Kopcynski and Bill Coburn — would possibly vote for such a change. With the mayor opposed, that dooms the idea.

Konopa wants to do the opposite: Ban pot shops within 300 feet of residential areas in industrial zones as well. And if Councilors Floyd Collins, Bessie Johnson and Rich Kellum vote with her — as she seems to be counting on — that might close Canna Kitchen where it is on Ferry unless the council specifically exempts existing businesses from the enhanced ban. There was talk Monday of bringing this up again at a council meeting in June when all members are expected to be present.  (Johnson was away on Monday.)

All this talk about city regulation of marijuana may seem a bit overwrought in view of state Measure 91, passed last fall, which allows people to grow up to four marijuana plants on their property starting July 1, possess up to eight ounces of the stuff for personal use, carry up to an ounce on their person, and smoke it anywhere except in public places.

Meanwhile the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is drafting rules for licensing recreational marijuana stores, but those are not expected to open before the fall of 2016. The current legislature also is working on marjuana legislation, covering both medical and recreational pot and perhaps altering some of the provisions of Measure 91.

Canna Kitchen, by the way, does not sell marijuana. Instead it compounds ointments and such from pot brought in by people with medical marijuana cards. It’s a sedate little business, and it’s hard to see — for me anyway — how anybody could oppose it moving to Sherman and Seventh on objective grounds. (hh)

10 responses to “Pot issue still occupies mayor, council”

  1. Rhea Graham says:

    What a wonderful article, thank you, we appreciate your support. We actually do sell Cannabis now, as we were forced to become a dispensary in January to be allowed to stay in business. We are also able to sell our capsules, tincture, salve, liniment, suppositories, shampoo, deodorant, virgin organic coconut oil, and more… along with Cannabis.

    If you know anyone who has their OMMP card, please let them know about us – and that we are having a Clone Event (100 baby female Cannabis plants) on May 15 and 16. These are for cardholders only, by law.

    Again, thank you.
    Rhea Graham

  2. Jim Engel says:

    So the Council goes about its Don Quixote quest to protect us. Do they need to be reminded of all the locations where beer/wine/liquor is sold that are right in neighborhoods already!! They don’t turn down the tax income from these. I’m wondering if our dear mayor has watched Reefer Madness one too any times? It’s an irony that Canna Kitchen is complying with every roadblock thrown at it. But, just across the street at Eleanor Hackleman Park you could probably score a roach off one of the skater dudes! JE

  3. James Carrick says:

    The hypocrisy of our Mayor and her minions is astounding. Alcohol is FAR MORE damaging to society than marijuana, yet the “Reefer Madness” lives on.

    Time for “Miss Goody-Goody Two Shoes” (Konopa) to step into today’s realities and recognize where the REAL dangers are. She is clueless.

  4. Steve says:

    So they sought a variance, and instead the mayorstarts a process that would close the business in it’s currently legal location? Talk about abusive legislation, do we really need petty, vindictive people running cities? Here’s hoping Albany kicks her to the curb next election.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The mayor believes Canna could stay as a nonconforming use. But I think that’s a land-use concept that does not apply here because the marijuana store ordinance is not a land-use law. So the ordinance change being sought by the mayor would have to include a specific exemption for existing businesses, I think. Otherwise Canna would have to close or move. (hh)

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    If one had a “marijuana store,” would that preclude building a residence within 300 feet or a school within 1,000 feet of it?
    You know, equal protection under the law ……

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Current iteration of Measure 91 gives priority to the school saying that if a “school” opened within 1000′, said “marijuana store” has to close.

  6. David Clark Moore says:

    According to Colorado’s department of revenue, the first ten months of legal marijuana sales have resulted in nearly $40 million in tax revenue. The city of Denver saw a decrease in violent crime rates in the first 11 months of 2014, following a similar trend in 2013. Statewide traffic fatalities continue to decline, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Upwards of $8 million has been allocated to fund youth education and drug prevention efforts. And the state is enjoying economic growth, and the lowest unemployment rate in years.
    And we should be using facebook for this. It’s more public. Hasso Hering is easy to find on facebook; and then he would not be collecting all our email addresses. :-)

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I held up posting this comment to do a spot check on the numbers. Turns out that during all of 2014, Colorado reports collecting $52.6 million in total marijuana taxes, licenses and fees. So without checking and vouching for all of them, David’s numbers appear to be borne out. As for email addresses, I have not collected any. (hh)

  7. Rhea Graham says:

    With the recent legislation put forth — Here is input and a link. It’s long, but worth reading. A vote for no dispensaries needs to be a vote for no revenue for any city or county that turns it down. That will be a great reason to recall anyone who would vote such a crazy ordinance in.

    Quoting Sarah Duff here:

    “SB 964 would allow cities and counties to overturn the will of the voters. If we allow the bullies at the city and county level to ban sales of medical marijuana and adult use stores, and if we limit the number of patients an experienced grower can have, then partients lose and prohibition still doesn’t work. We gain a cop’s increased ability to bust once legal growers and we keep our jails filled.

    Oregon’s only legal medical marijuana for 15 of the last 16 years was a private relationship between a grower and a patient which fits the “Farm to Patient” medicine movement similar to the “Farm to Table” movement. I’m not saying it worked perfectly, that’s why I started my business. When done right, the system helps a lot of people regardless of income. I’m for tracking and for civil penalties for noncompliance but personal or small grows should not have to face the same scrutiny and tracking as larger grows where money will be made. Most importantly, ‪#‎nomorejailformarijuanaoffenses‬. Let’s retain ‪#‎farmtopatientmedicine‬. Let’s preserve Measure 91’s brilliance that voters should decide if stores should be banned, and not give the city and county politicians that authority. ‪#‎letvotersdecide‬ Old incarnations of SB 964 couldn’t pass out of the committee that made the most sense so now their trying on a new bill number and a maybe a new committee. Call your representatives today.”

    Rhea’s input: Email them, too! I have provided their email addresses as well as the addresses of the City Manager, the Mayor and City Councilors as well. Please note, Councilors Dick Olsen, Ray Kopczynski, and Bill Coburn continue to support us and the freedom of people using a plant for relief, bless them!

    sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us (sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us); Rep.PeterBuckley@state.or.us (rep.peterbuckley@state.or.us); Sen.JeffKruse@state.or.us (sen.jeffkruse@state.or.us); Rep Olson (rep.andyolson@state.or.us); rep.carlwilson@state.or.us (rep.carlwilson@state.or.us); sen.tedferrioli@state.or.us (sen.tedferrioli@state.or.us); Sen.LeeBeyer@state.or.us (sen.leebeyer@state.or.us); Sen.FloydProzanski@state.or.us (sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us); rep.kenhelm@state.or.us (rep.kenhelm@state.or.us); rep.annlininger@state.or.us (rep.annlininger@state.or.us)

    wes.hare@cityofalbany.net (wes.hare@cityofalbany.net); Sharon Konopa (sharon.konopa@cityofalbany.net); Dick Olsen – Councilor Ward 1 (rsolsen@proaxis.com); pfcollins@comcast.net (pfcollins@comcast.net); ray.kopczynski@cityofalbany.net (ray.kopczynski@cityofalbany.net); bcoburncc@gmail.com (bcoburncc@gmail.com); bessie.johnson@cityofalbany.net (bessie.johnson@cityofalbany.net); rich.kellum@cityofalbany.net (rich.kellum@cityofalbany.net)


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