Nov 7, 2018–Voters in the city of Klamath Falls voted to overturn a ban on adult use marijuana on Tuesday, November 6th. The ban has been in effect since Oregon passed a statewide legalization measure in 2014, Measure 91, which allowed legal adult use cannabis and the framework to support the industry. Cities and counties that had voted 55% or greater in opposition to the measure were allowed to opt-out of the law, creating a patchwork of municipalities that banned adult use businesses from operating. Klamath Falls (and Klamath County) met the opt-out criteria and both imposed bans.
After failing to overturn the ban at the Klamath County level in 2016, cannabis activists and businesses took aim at just the city of Klamath Falls, where voters have shown more support of cannabis. The initiative was spearheaded by Ed Medina, a resident of Klamath Falls and owner of the medical marijuana dispensary A Better Way Medicinal Alternatives, and the measure co-petitioner, Marianne Yong of Wholly Hemp Farm. They gathered 80 more than the needed 1784 valid signatures to place the measure on the ballot after a long summer of signature collecting efforts.
“The team of Klamath Strong volunteers are very thankful today. It was a long, hard-fought campaign of educating and informing the citizens of Klamath Falls of the reality and facts of the cannabis industry in Oregon,” Medina told Oregon Cannabis Connection. “This was a truly grass-roots campaign and I am personally thrilled at what looks to be a significant win. Of course, we will have to wait and see what the final numbers look like, but one thing is clear—the majority of citizens in Klamath falls are in favor of moving forward with this industry, and we are looking forward to the new opportunities that this industry presents.”
No adult use sales will be allowed immediately since the measure does not go into effect until February 2019. The realities of licensing through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) means it will likely be well over a year before any recreational cannabis is sold in Klamath Falls. Regardless, Medina is excited about the opportunities and future of the city now that the ban is going to be lifted.
“The recreational cannabis program is still evolving in Oregon. It will take some time to get things perfected, but at least now we have the same opportunities as the rest of the state,” Medina explained. “This could mean an entirely new direction for our local economy.”
There was significant opposition to the measure, including the local Newspaper and Hospital. A PAC formed that was funded by Sky Lakes Medical Center, KCEDA, Klamath Works, and other affluent community leaders that were opposed to Measure 18-115. They failed in their efforts, however, and it passed with a margin 628 votes, 4113 in favor to 3485 opposed. Now an advisory board must be established to handle the particulars.
“The opposition to this initiative was made up of some powerful and wealthy individuals and organizations. My hope is that we can all work together to develop a system that works for everyone here,” Medina explained. “With the advisory committee in place, we can finally sit together and discuss the realities, challenges and opportunities that lay before us. We are a strong community. We all want the same things; A safe and prosperous community.”
Medina is confident that things will work out with the advisory committee and is anxious to become licensed and welcome all adults to his dispensary. He is also excited for the opportunity that now exists for other businesses and entrepreneurs to operate in the town. The economic impact could be significant.
“I believe if we work together, we can achieve great things,” Medina told OCC. “And, that is what I am looking forward to next. I want to, once again, thank everyone who helped to get us where we are today.”
Way to go Klamath Falls! You can visit their campaign website at www.klamathstrong.com