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Sep-01-2015 00:43printcomments

Salem City Council Approves Early Pot Sales for 21+

The Oregon Legislature gave each city the chance to legally opt out of recreational marijuana sales

marijuana leaf
Photo by Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - There’s excitement in the air! Salem has joined the cities in Oregon that have gone with the State’s voters, and will allow recreational marijuana sales.

At 6:30 pm Monday, a large crowd made their way into the Salem city council chambers. There was a lot of wariness in regard to this meeting, with business owners and concerned citizens anxious to know what Salem politicians would decide. An email campaign asked the Mayor and City Council to “cease and desist from trying to overturn the will of the people and state law”, referring to the passage of Measure 91 last fall, by a 53% majority.

With little warning to Salem's citizens, the City Council looked at possibly banning recreational marijuana sales, a "special order of business" on the agenda called "(b) 2015 Marijuana Legislation (Legal)."

  1. Prohibit "early sales" of recreational marijuana from Salem area medical marijuana facilities that may begin October 1, 2015?
  2. Prohibit or regulate the sale of recreational marijuana after the "early sales" period ends December 31, [2016]
  3. Prohibit or regulate growing or processing of marijuana?
  4. Repeal SRC Chapter 32 - Marijuana Sales Tax - and refer a new ordinance to City electors that is consistent with state law?

“To prohibit early sales activity seems to be a severe response to something that has not presented an actual problem,” Shelley Withee, told KOIN 6 News.

The pro-marijuana constituency was pleased to witness the City Council’s passing of an amended motion to allow those 21 and older to buy marijuana, legally, in the city of Salem. Patients with medical marijuana cards are not affected by this ruling.

“It takes the taboo out of using marijuana,” said an Oregon medical marijuana patient. “A taboo that should never have existed.”

October 1st is just around the corner, so it is very important that retailers have the opportunity to prepare. With 13 medical marijuana dispensaries in the capital city, and most of them expected to offer recreational pot, Salem adults are entering into a new age never before experienced by Oregonians. Or, not since prior to 1937, anyway.

Change is hard in a very general way, but it applies to this new attitude about marijuana. Even with regulation, some people will continue buying marijuana on the street.

“We need to make sure we take every reasonable step to stop black market sales here in Salem, one city at a time if need be,” Margo Lucas, owner of West Salem Cannabis said to the Council.

“People are going to get it anyway, and most would rather do it safe and legally.”

Offering a legal option for pot purchases is sure to curb the black market sales in Salem as it has in cities in Colorado and Washington.

The Salem City Council has made a big step forward in creating a platform for tolerance and education, and they have respected the will of the people of Oregon, who passed Measure 91.

Salem may well be an example for other cities to follow.


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