Marijuana and Marion County

There is a great deal of information being circulated about the legalization of Marijuana, and it is important that the facts be communicated clearly and concisely. Many rumors have spread that your elected officials are making decisions in secret and against the will of the people. The exact opposite is true, all meetings have been noticed publicly and we are putting the issue in front of the people to either confirm their will of 2014 or allow them to change direction in 2016. Ultimately the voters of Marion County will decide.

On Wednesday September 23, the Marion County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed ordinances #1358 and #1359 which will refer 2 issues related to recreational marijuana to the voters of Marion County in the November 2016 general election.

Measure 91, which allows possession and sale of marijuana by/to adults, state licensing, regulation and taxation, passed in the State of Oregon in November of 2014. However the measure failed in Marion County by a vote of 51.46% against to 48.44% favoring the measure. The citizens of Marion County said no to recreational marijuana and as such the law allows us to put the future expansion of commercial marijuana growing, manufacturing, distribution and sales to a vote of the citizens of Marion County.

Ordinance #1358 prohibits the establishment of recreational marijuana operations in the unincorporated area of Marion County, referring the ordinance to the electors of Marion County. This ordinance in no way prevents any incorporated city from allowing these activities, and in fact most cities in Marion County have already indicated that they will allow recreational marijuana operations to move forward.

Ordinance #1359 establishes a 3% tax on the sale of marijuana items by persons holding a license under section 22, chapter 1, Oregon Laws 2015 (Measure 91) in the unincorporated area of Marion County, referring the ordinance to the electors of Marion County. This ordinance asks the citizens if the vote turns out to allow the recreational marijuana operations to be established, do they want to add a 3% local sales tax to the retail purchases. (3% is the maximum allowed by state law but only by a vote of the people.)

Neither of these ordinances if voted in by the citizens will infringe on the individuals rights to possess, grow or use marijuana under the rules in Measure 91. Individuals will still be allowed to grow 4 plants, possess up to 8 oz at home and 1 oz in public and consume in their private residences. Also existing medical marijuana dispensaries and growers will not be impacted. They are grandfathered under these ordinances.

By referring these options to the citizens of Marion County we are able to postpone the implementation of large commercial recreational marijuana operations from moving forward in the unincorporated areas of Marion County. This is prudent as there are many unanswered questions about implementation and it is unclear what rules will come from the OLCC in January 2016 pertaining to these operations.

Marion County is the number 1 producer of agricultural products in the State of Oregon. It is our duty as your elected officials to protect the valuable farm and agricultural lands. We need to ensure future production of healthy food products for our citizens as well as those throughout the world that depend upon what is grown here.

Thank you for taking time to read, and please remember my door is always open.