A kick in the pants to Umatilla County Commissioners for continuing their ban on medical and recreational marijuana in the county.
It was clear from the beginning that their marijuana committee was created in bad faith, originally comprised of members who had all been outspoken in their opposition to the drug. (It was only after public pressure that a pro-marijuana committee member was named, though no one representing a marijuana business or even a medical marijuana patient was party to the discussion and the board remained far from balanced.)
So the stacked committee told commissioners what they wanted to hear. And commissioners were glad to institute their recommendation.
The only thing that recommendation will do, however, is force Umatilla County to miss out on tax revenue — possibly north of $100,000 this fiscal year, according to estimates from the state.
TopShelf, a nationwide marijuana delivery service, is already operating openly in Pendleton, giving away pot for a $25 “donation.” And you can bet they aren’t checking IDs like a state-sanctioned store would. And they sure as heck aren’t paying any taxes. The black market is alive and well in Umatilla County thanks to head-in-the-sand county leadership.
Commissioner George Murdock even wrote out an argument for continuing the ban, derisively labeling marijuana as “weird” and not in line with Eastern Oregon values.
It’s disappointing that none of the people who use medical marijuana to lighten their heavy medical ailments stood before commissioners and told their story. Although with the attitude of the three men, it’s understandable why those people were unwilling to come forward.
The lack of compassion the commissioners have for those who benefit from marijuana is something we just can’t comprehend. What is gained from banning medical dispensaries?
Still, we don’t think the ban will last long. Everything else the prohibitionists have said about marijuana has failed to come to fruition so far, and we imagine this one will soon be overturned too. Until then, it will cost the county dearly, as we fall behind on a growing industry while others forge ahead. But then again, that’s nothing new around here.
A tip of the hat to Peggy Anderson, who is overseeing her last Umatilla County Fair. Anderson has done good work to make the fair a better product, and she has the additional dollars and visitors to show for it — and this year is shaping up to be another great party.
The fair, though, is at a precipice. It is the last year it will take place at its current location, where it has lived for 80 years, and it will now move over to EOTEC in 2016 without its longtime director. Or any full-time director, for that matter.
The board will stay in place, though its job may need to shift to fill in some of the gaps left by Anderson.
We hope all those changes don’t change the culture and charm of our beloved county celebration. We also wish Anderson the best of luck down in Southern Oregon, remaking another county fair.