Pubdate: Thu, 26 May 2016
Source: Portland Mercury (OR)
Column: Ask a Pot Lawyer
Copyright: 2016 The Portland Mercury
Author: Vince Sliwoski


Not All of Oregon Supports Legal Weed

I HEARD WEED is still not happening in parts of Oregon. What's the latest?

Things are coming around slowly. You know: strikes and gutters, ups and downs.

You may recall that last week, when you dropped off your ballot for 
the presidential, state, and local races, pot was not on the ballot. 
For people in Grant and Klamath counties, the opposite was true. Both 
counties voted on measures to allow medical and retail facilities, 
and to allow citizens of the empire to access weed as we do here in 
Portland. Regrettably, both measures failed.

If you have followed the legalization story in Oregon, you may know 
that the state is a patchwork of pot-friendly and prohibition zones. 
This is because when our legislators implemented pot legalization, 
they did a funny thing: They gave cities and counties the right to 
opt out of marijuana altogether. This occurred due to political 
opposition from rural counties and their constituents, who generally 
opposed marijuana and felt overrun by less conservative, urban areas. 
Another way of saying that is those counties were out-voted, 
complained, and got special rules.

Whatever you make of it, the result was that an Oregon city or county 
can opt out of nearly all recreational pot activity by administrative 
fiat if it voted 55 percent or more against Measure 91 (the pot 
initiative you supported a while back). If the city or county voted 
less than 55 percent against Measure 91, or for the Measure, it can 
adopt an opt-out ordinance. Such ordinance will stand if approved 
through a local vote, which must be taken by November. Finally, if a 
county opts out, that action does not apply to its "incorporated" 
cities, and vice-versa.

In my day job, I speak regularly with clients about the individual 
situations in their respective counties. Until a few weeks ago, 
people in Deschutes County were somewhat worried about the situation 
there. Although Bend, the county seat, had not opted out of 
marijuana, the county at large had put the skids on things while 
Commissioners gathered information. Finally, Deschutes County opted 
back in. Other jurisdictions, like the City of Fairview (between 
Gresham and Hood River), have gone to the extreme of prohibiting 
medical marijuana grows, even though their citizens supported Measure 
91. That seems undemocratic.

To date, most of the opt-out action has been east of the Cascades. 
Grant County, for example, is dry, dusty, and sparsely populated, out 
near the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Klamath County, conversely, has 
significant pot activity, with over 66,000 citizens and 788 
registered medical marijuana growers. Many of those growers were 
active in getting this issue on last week's ballot, but failed to win 
hearts and minds.

Unless you have a road trip planned, none of this should affect you 
directly. Note, however, that prohibition locales cannot share in the 
already significant statewide tax revenues from weed sales. That 
means more money for schools, services and law enforcement here in 
Portland, but none for the opt-out areas. Strikes and gutters, indeed.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom