Although the state of Oregon has fully legalized cannabis, one northeastern county isn’t allowing businesses to set up shop.
The Umatilla County Board has voted unanimously 3-0 on Wednesday to keep marijuana shops out of the county, following voters’ wishes.
This continues the moratorium on both medicinal marijuana dispensaries and all other cannabis businesses.
That spells bad news for any entrepreneurs interested in licensing a marijuana business in northeastern Oregon.
Commissioner and board chair George Murdock said that the moratorium is merely respecting the wishes of local voters.
“Roughly 70 percent of those voters indicated at the ballot box they were opposed to the legalization of marijuana,” Murdock said at the public hearing.
The actual figure was closer to 63%, according to Umatilla County election records. That was the number of residents who opposed Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana statewide.
Compare that to the 52% of Americans nationwide surveyed who said that they believe that marijuana should be fully legalized.
Thankfully for the people of Umatilla County, the state’s 2015 legislature passed House Bill 3400, which allowed local governments to prohibit marijuana businesses, but only in counties where at least 55% of voters said “No” to Measure 91.
The Umatilla County Board passed its moratorium in April 2014, which no one spoke out against, according to Murdock.
He also pointed to the differences between Eastern Oregon and the Portland area, especially when it comes to values.
“My neighbors don’t pride themselves on being weird,” Murdock said. “In fact, these same individuals also don’t line the streets of Pendleton, Hermiston or any other local community to celebrate nude bike rides.”
Murdock said that he didn’t see any research that actually supported claims about medical marijuana, either, which Chairwoman Tamra Mabbott agreed with. Mabbott also pointed out that the community simply doesn’t have the resources needed to make sure that medical marijuana stays out of the black market.
The state’s Health Authority is currently revising its guidelines on medical cannabis dispensaries to make sure that laws are better enforced.