A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Potential pot points plotted

Written July 27th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The corner of Marion Street and 41st Avenue could become Albany's Cannabis Central under potential city regulations illustrated on maps handed to the council Wednesday.

The corner of Marion Street and 41st Avenue could become Albany’s Cannabis Central under potential city regulations illustrated on maps handed to the city council Wednesday.

Albany is no closer to knowing where marijuana sellers and processors will be allowed if voters in November overturn the existing ban on commerce in recreational pot. The city council argued about it for a while Wednesday night but didn’t get anywhere.

Still, based on previous discussions showing what three council members and the mayor seemed to want, the city staff drew up a new set of maps showing where recreational producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers might set up shop. Under restrictive changes in the municipal code favored by the majority, one place where all those activities would be allowed would be around and west of the corner of 41st Avenue and Marion Street. It’s a sparsely developed tract of weedy vacant lots and a few industries and construction yards.

In addition to state restriction, a draft ordinance based on prior council discussions would ban recreational pot facilities within 300 feet of residential zones. It would also eliminate an exception from the 300-foot exclusion for facilities in industrial zones. Councilor Ray Kopczynski argued for less than 300 feet. Councilor Rich Kellum and Mayor Sharon Konopa defended the limit.

As planned and as required by law, the council Wednesday put its existing recreational pot business ban on the ballot in the Nov. 8 general election. It also enacted a 3 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis sales and put that on the ballot as well. The tax takes effect only if the voters overturn the ban.

Over the objections of Kopczynski and Dick Olsen, the council Wednesday completed a change in its rules to prevent any single councilor from blocking council action by abstaining. Under the change, an abstention will count as a no vote. The city charter says it takes four votes for the council to act and if there’s a 3-3 tie, the mayor gets to decide. Before the change, an abstention prevented a 3-3 tie. Last year, Kopczynski tried to block the marijuana ban by abstaining, but the ploy failed when Bill Coburn unexpectedly voted for the ban.

The council has been arguing over marijuana since before the 2014 state election that authorized recreational use and sales. City voters will put an end to some of that argument in November, but the debate about what’s a reasonable set of local restrictions is likely keep prolonging council sessions at least till then. (hh)



5 responses to “Potential pot points plotted”

  1. Kent Grant says:

    Most interesting.
    As I survey news from around this wonderful state I come across what appears to be yet another microcosm for the Nation’s unbending attitude towards Marijuana. I do not smoke or use the much maligned Mary Jane, but find it bemusing when I see that, despite a statewide voter-approved legal status-change, politicians themselves decide that they will determine who smokes weed and who doesn’t, by golly. Having dealt with thousands of people at their very worst, from the street weary stumblebum, to murderous cartel members, I can safely say that alcohol is infinitely more dangerous to the citizenry in any venue except driving. Ask any retired cop. Working cops can’t speak their minds, yet, but once they no longer have to be in fear of losing their jobs simply for doing their jobs, they’ll open up. We share a burden of knowledge most of the world does not. Good day to you Albany.

  2. Jim Engel says:

    Betcha the black marketers are sure doing to comply with the councils restrictions..JE

  3. Cheryl P says:

    Sharon Konopa needs to go…simple as that. So do any other council members who have worked with her to circumvent the will of the people.

    You people forget that you FOR us…WE put you in office, WE can take you back out.

    Your job is to represent the people of Albany, NOT your personal opinions…that was the oath that you took.

  4. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe they should ban restaurants within 300 feet of residential areas because the food odors might entice an overweight person to eat more?

    Mandate all pot shops be downtown and think how “revitalized” it would become. We wouldn’t need CARA and the hate they cause.


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