Oregon has a well-deserved national reputation for being progressive/liberal. But everybody who lives here knows that this only reflects the vibe in western Oregon, the eastern part of the state (except Bend) being way behind the times.
Thus even though arch-conservative Glenn Beck recently named Portland the worst city in America -- which means it actually is one of the best -- he could go to most places in rural Oregon and feel right at home.
Case in point: Oregonians legalized recreational marijuana last November by a comfortable margin, passing Measure 91 56% to 44%. But in its wisdom (ironically speaking) the 2015 state legislature decided to allow local governments to ban recreational marijuana sales if Measure 91 got 55% or more "no" votes in that jurisdiction.
Deschutes is the latest Oregon county to consider “opting out” of marijuana businesses.
This spring, state lawmakers passed a bill that gives cities and counties the option to ban pot grows, processors, wholesalers and retailers under certain conditions.
Local governments can only pass a permanent ban if 55 percent or more residents voted against legalizing recreational marijuana. In Deschutes County, Measure 91 passed by 52 percent, so restrictions on pot businesses would go on the November 2016 ballot.
If counties do not opt out, commercial marijuana grows will be regulated like any other farm crop.
So far, four Oregon counties and eight cities have enacted bans. Several are in eastern Oregon, where Measure 91 — the measure to legalize recreational pot — failed by a large percentage.
Even if a county or city decides to opt out, people will still be able to grow and use their own marijuana. They just might not be able to buy it, or farm pot for commercial sale within county limits.
A kick in the pants to Umatilla County Commissioners for continuing their ban on medical and recreational marijuana in the county.
It was clear from the beginning that their marijuana committee was created in bad faith, originally comprised of members who had all been outspoken in their opposition to the drug. (It was only after public pressure that a pro-marijuana committee member was named, though no one representing a marijuana business or even a medical marijuana patient was party to the discussion and the board remained far from balanced.)
So the stacked committee told commissioners what they wanted to hear. And commissioners were glad to institute their recommendation.
The only thing that recommendation will do, however, is force Umatilla County to miss out on tax revenue — possibly north of $100,000 this fiscal year, according to estimates from the state.
TopShelf, a nationwide marijuana delivery service, is already operating openly in Pendleton, giving away pot for a $25 “donation.” And you can bet they aren’t checking IDs like a state-sanctioned store would. And they sure as heck aren’t paying any taxes. The black market is alive and well in Umatilla County thanks to head-in-the-sand county leadership.
Commissioner George Murdock even wrote out an argument for continuing the ban, derisively labeling marijuana as “weird” and not in line with Eastern Oregon values.
It’s disappointing that none of the people who use medical marijuana to lighten their heavy medical ailments stood before commissioners and told their story. Although with the attitude of the three men, it’s understandable why those people were unwilling to come forward.
The lack of compassion the commissioners have for those who benefit from marijuana is something we just can’t comprehend. What is gained from banning medical dispensaries?
Still, we don’t think the ban will last long. Everything else the prohibitionists have said about marijuana has failed to come to fruition so far, and we imagine this one will soon be overturned too. Until then, it will cost the county dearly, as we fall behind on a growing industry while others forge ahead. But then again, that’s nothing new around here.
No, it isn't.
Rural Oregon, which is mostly Republican, likes to complain about how it is falling behind the rest of the state economically. It wants Democrats, who control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature, to do more for rural economic development.
Well, I'd feel more sorry for rural areas of Oregon if they didn't keep on shooting themselves in the foot, then scream "Why am I bleeding? Why can't I move as fast as Portland?"
When rural counties and cities ban the sale of medical and recreational marijuana, an herb which is vastly superior to alcohol in every way -- safety, psychoactive effect, health benefits -- it makes them look backward, behind the times, uncool, moralistic, uncaring about their citizens' quality of life.
Why would individuals or businesses with enough financial moxie to be able to relocate wherever they want choose to move to a rural Oregon county or city that is so stuck in the past, it has banned marijuana sales?
And why would cash-strapped governments pass up the 3% (I think it is) local tax on marijuana sales just to be able to feel all Jesus'y because they have kept stores that sell the Devil Weed out of their area?
Stupid. It's just stupid.
Rural Oregon is going to continue to economically lag behind Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and more with-it parts of this state so long as it proclaims "We're proudly redneck and want to keep on living as if it were 1955 instead of 2015."
Just keep in mind that most people want to live in the present, not the past. They favor same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, equal rights, immigration reform, and other progressive policies. Rural Oregon is free to party like the 21st century never happened.
It also is free to remain in economic doldrums because nobody in their right mind wants to live or work in Backward Land.
Thank you, Roseburg, for being an exception:
The Roseburg City Council meeting Monday night included more anxiety and hand-wringing than usual. For the second consecutive meeting, councilors discussed whether to adopt a citywide ordinance that would prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from selling recreational marijuana at the beginning of October.
...However, supporters argued that marijuana was approved statewide and that the economy in Douglas County could use marijuana as a cash crop. John Sajo, executive director of the local advocacy group Umpqua Cannabis Association, said that to try to further restrict marijuana and deny consumers would only drive money elsewhere.
... In the end, Eggers, Fazio, Hawks, John McDonald and Steve Kaser voted against the restriction and won the majority...Sales of recreational marijuana will begin at medical marijuana dispensaries in Roseburg on Oct. 1.