Growing Number of Oregon Communities Reject Legal Cannabis

At least a dozen Oregon cities and counties have taken steps to ban cannabis retail outlets as the state moves to allow retail sales starting this October.

Four counties and eight cities have informed the Oregon Liquor Control Commission that they plan to ban cannabis producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers. In some jurisdictions, the ban must go before voters.

Oregon lawmakers gave local governments the ability to keep out cannabis businesses, which were authorized by voters under last year’s Measure 91. In counties where at least 60 percent of voters opposed the measure, local governments can ban the cannabis businesses outright; elsewhere, a ban is temporary until voters weigh in.

Even in jurisdictions that opt out, adults can still grow and use cannabis subject to the same limits that apply in the rest of the state. But if they want to buy from a retail store, they’ll have to be prepared to travel.

The strongest opposition so far has come from far-eastern Oregon, where Malheur County and three of its five incorporated cities have adopted bans.  “I think some of our problem here really is our proximity to Idaho, where it’s totally illegal,” said Larry Wilson, a Malheur County commissioner. “We even had testimony from police agencies on the other side of the river asking us to please opt out, or restrict it as much as we can, because that’s a problem with people going back and forth across the river.”

State law gives local governments until December 27 to adopt a ban.