Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2015
Source: Albany Democrat-Herald (OR)
Copyright: 2015 Lee Enterprises


Here's an interesting question in the wake of this week's Albany City 
Council meeting, the one at which the council voted in favor of a 
temporary ban on recreational pot sales by medical marijuana dispensaries:

Is the council's 4-2 vote the first step in an effort to impose a 
more permanent ban on sales of recreational marijuana?

Time will tell. But one thing is for sure: Imposing a permanent ban 
is a much more elaborate process than imposing the temporary ban, 
which only applies to dispensaries. (Recall that under state law, 
those dispensaries - and no one else - can sell recreational 
marijuana beginning on Oct. 1. Other retail sales of recreational 
marijuana are on hold while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission 
works out the regulatory framework for those.)

And any decision to pursue a permanent ban by any local government in 
Linn County would involve taking the issue directly to voters.

Here's why: Under the terms of the complex deal the Legislature 
worked out in its session this year, local governments in any county 
in which at least 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91 can simply 
move to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational marijuana 
retailers, producers, processors and wholesalers.

In other counties, any prohibition on marijuana businesses must be 
submitted to a vote of the people.

Linn County voters rejected Measure 91 (which, of course, passed 
statewide). But the county didn't hit the 55 percent threshold  in 
fact, only 15 counties, all of them in eastern Oregon, hit that mark. 
(In Linn County, about 52 percent of voters voted against the measure.)

So that means any permanent ban on any aspect of the marijuana 
business by any local government in Linn County must be approved by 
voters. Some Linn County communities already are planning for 
elections on that question in the November 2016 general election.

Will Albany join the list?

Maybe. But here's something for city councilors here to keep in mind: 
Even though Linn County voted against Measure 91, the city of Albany 
did not. In fact, by our count, Albany voters approved Measure 91 by 
about 400 votes out of about 19,000 cast.

Now, that's not a huge margin of victory - it works out to be about a 
51-49 percent margin.

But in the absence of more recent polling on the issue, how Albany 
voted last year on Measure 91 would seem to offer a relatively 
reliable measurement of what city voters think about marijuana legalization.

It also seems likely that how the rollout of recreational marijuana 
goes throughout the state over the next year could end up swaying the 
views of voters throughout Linn County if they're faced with a ban 
proposal on the November 2016 ballot: If things go smoothly (or if 
legalization hits significant bumps), that could well shape election results.

Here's another likelihood: You can bet that both proponents and 
opponents of legalization - the same political forces that clashed 
over Measure 91 - are keeping an eye on these ban proposals. It seems 
a good bet that marijuana as a big political issue across Oregon 
isn't going to be fading any time soon. (mm)
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom