By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Council rejects Linfield buffer

In front of a packed Civic Hall, the council approved an ordinance regulating the time, place and manner of marijuana sales. It has the same rules as a previous ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries — with 1,000-foot buffers around the Community Center, the Library and the Aquatic Center, as well has state-mandated buffers around schools — but updated to include recreational sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has indicated it will release guidelines for recreational sales of marijuana at the beginning of 2016.

City officials were eager to pass the guidelines before the first of the year so that they would be grandfathered in and immune from future OLCC changes.

Linfield sought a buffer after former city councilor and planning commissioner Wayne Stocks leased the former location of Jakes Deli, at the corner of Baker Street and Linfield Avenue, with the intention of turning it into a marijuana dispensary.

The Green Heart Oregon dispensary applied for a license to sell medical marijuana from the state in September, and soon after Linfield made its request for a buffer to the council. The dispensary also took out building permits with the city and Stocks said the company has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in the business and hiring employees. 

The college claimed the buffer was necessary to protect children on campus during the summer from being able to obtain marijuana. 

On Tuesday, Linfield Vice President John McKeegan read a letter from President Thomas Hellie, who was absent from the public meeting. The letter said “the college’s request is consistent with previous buffers placed around other places where children congregate.” 

The letter also mentioned that the school was concerned about the effect a dispensary at one of its main entrances would have on its image and enrollment, and that a drop in enrollment would negatively impact the college and, in turn, the city. The dispensary would be just down the street from the college’s admission office and many visitors and prospective students would undoubtedly pass by the dispensary, McKeegan noted. 

When asked multiple times if a buffer would really protect minors, McKeegan repeatedly said its request for a buffer was consistent with state, federal and local rules. 

Stocks said he “believed the buffer was an unreasonable request by both the college and the city.” He pointed out how Chemeketa was not asking for a buffer, and said a buffer request by both schools would be more reasonable. Stocks said he would be fine with a buffer around the places children congregate most on campus, such as the dining hall, residence halls and sports fields. 

Tony Browne said that, although he was a longtime Linfield booster, he did not believe in a buffer.

“Don’t tell me Linfield is a drug free campus. Don’t tell me children haven’t had exposure to marijuana,” Browne said. He suggested if the college didn’t want to be near the dispensary, it should move 1,000 feet back, saying it shouldn’t have the right to tell businesses what they can and can’t do along one of the city’s busiest commercial streets. 

Jennifer Sanders, Stocks’ business partner in the venture, said they would not have considered siting their business at the location had there been a pre-determined buffer. 

“We thought the city had already gone through its due diligence in deciding where it wants dispensaries,” Sanders said. “We want a fair shot and we thought you guys had already been through the process.”

The city made dispensary location rules in 2014 and allowed them to go forward despite reservations from some councilors. 

Councilor Remy Drabkin asked Sanders why they decided to invest so much money into the location without thinking there would be an outcry against a dispensary.

Sanders said since there was no buffer around Linfield they thought it would be an appropriate location.

Later in the evening, after several mentioned that Linfield seemed reactionary asking for a buffer so late in the game, Susan Agre-Kippenhan, Linfield dean of faculty, said the college had only now asked for a buffer because it had never contemplated a dispensary would set up shop so close to the campus.

Adam Garvin testified that opening a dispensary was not easy, given the paucity of commercial locations willing to allow a dispensary and the layers of regulation surrounding it. 

“It seems Linfield has an issue with not-in-my-backyard syndrome,” Garvin said, pointing out the college had no problem allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol on and around its campus. 

David Mihm said he was concerned with abuse of the substance and with the health of the community. He said he had seen the damage substances such as marijuana can wreak upon people. 

The planning commission deliberated first, with Commissioner Amanda Pietz making several points echoed by other commissioners. She said Linfield’s request for a buffer did not have consistency or parallel other buffers. She also added the primary use of the college was by college-age students, which made it different from other facilities in town, such as the library, pool and community center.

Martin Chroust-Masin said he thought there was already too much legislation impeding business people and he didn’t want to add more layers. 

Jack Morgan said if the commission were to recommend a buffer around the campus, Chemeketa should have one also for consistency.

Chairperson Wendy Stassens said she was not convinced the primary purpose of the buffer around Linfield was to protect children. The commission unanimously voted against the buffer but passed the rest of the regulations. 

Councilor Kellie Menke said that with children only on campus for three months a year, it was not usually a place where children congregate. “College students are of age and expect to be treated as adults,” Menke said.

Councilor Kevin Jeffries, who has been a consistent and vociferous opponent of marijuana on the council, said he wished he could place a buffer around the town. He said he was worried about opening the door so wide and urged the council to be cautious. 

Eventually, the council voted unanimously against the buffer and followed the planning commission regulations.

Had the vote not been unanimous, the council would have forced a second reading of and hearing for the ordinance to be held, as per council rules, on either Dec. 23 or Dec. 29. 

Comments

JLane

Well with two dispensaries already in Linfield I'm sure this one won't last. Pot is still against the law at a federal level and only potheads now see the benefit of it. It will be out of business before anyone knows it's open! Get lost pot heads...take your business out of our town!

bonnybedlam

JLane, Linfield already has two dispensaries? Really? You don't seem to be very well informed on this subject, which shows throughout your comment.

A dispensary on the south side of town will be very convenient, especially for medical users in the neighborhood. McMinnville's existing dispensaries are both on the north end of town, as well as having very different practices (within the confines of the law). The options and competition provided by a new business can only be good for the customers and community.

Lulu

The planning commission and city council made a wise decision.
Kevin Jeffries is hysterically trying to orchestrate other peoples' business. JLane is using her anecdotal experience to do the same.

JLane

I have just seen pot ruin people's lives. But go ahead and smoke it up and ruin your lives too!

Lulu

I've seen Jack Daniels wreak some powerful destruction, too.
You sip it, not drown in it.

scooter

I've seen Cheeseburgers ruin lives too, we're not telling Burger King to get lost are we, JLane?

The fact that Linfields main argument was the 1986 Controlled substance act, but failed to make any mention of the 10 point COLE memorandum that the DOJ put out for states and local law enforcement for exact reason of Rec/Medical use MJ just shows hows bad Thomas and his staff was grasping at straws to try and prevent this.

You look at the other schools that are in Linfields League. Willamette, Pacific, Lewis & Clark, PLU, ect... not one school in Oregon or Washington has asked for what Linfield was asking for....

I love Linfield, they have been a major part of my entire life, but being a "Liberal Arts" school that is suppose to have a open mind, and spur that through the teachings they offer it was very hypocritical of them to try and block commercial commerce on the entire south end of McMinnville.

Bob Z

JLane - Lives have been ruined by the prohibition against pot, not by pot itself. If someone has an addictive personality they're far better off with pot than the alternatives - including the legal ones of alcohol and prescribed medications.

listen*up

Linfield does have a choice,they can mount cameras in the area to monitor if customers of the dispensary trespass on to college property.Then take legal action against anyone possessing prohibited substances on Linfield Campus.

JLane

All illegal substances are bad! Pot especially! All you liberal hippies who think pot is the cure all need to get a clue. Have fun having no brain cells and memory when you grow up. You want to ruin your lives that's fine, just don't force your liberal pot smoking store in front of us and our impressionable college students. Put that in your pipe and smoke it losers.

Bob Z

JLane Okay. Now you've crossed over into self-parody. Quit watching 'Reefer Madness' nonstop. :)

Lulu

I'll smoke to that.

listen*up

I don't smoke pot myself,to me it's still an illegal drug,iv'e had 7 family members that smoked it for years,everyone of them ended up losers in life because they let pot become more important than anything else,even their children,a few of them haven't worked for more than 20 years,they let the taxpayers support them and their children and grandchildren,but it is their choice.the one thing i hate about pot smokers is they always attempt to entice others to smoke it too!I and my children have experienced this,if you are going to smoke it keep it to yourself!I don't want it and if you come near my children with it, well you have been warned!So smoke it if you must but stay the hell away from me.

Lulu

The conspiracy theory.
I'm sure without all that pot they would have been Rhodes scholars.

yamhillbilly2

JLane-Maybe someone needs to slip you a cookie so you can settle down, unless you're really trying for that role as Carrie Nation. Maybe at least you could get better info on a subject you are obviousy hystericl about.

Trafik

My purely speculative take on the matter:

Given that most parents of college students today grew up with Cheech and Chong, Animal House and other similar cultural markers, Linfield administration fears a marijuana dispensary boldly emblazoned with a seven-pointed leaf and, heaven forbid, a tie-dyed color scheme would look decidedly tacky next to the stately and staidly-landscaped entrance to their campus. But to come right out and say that would sound elitist and maybe a little snooty so they've taken a different tack.

The dispensary might provide a bold reminder of parents' own college years and administration may fear such flashbacks could sour potential students' parents on their august institution. To Linfield admin, this is simply a matter of sound marketing and good taste.

But I'm just speculating. My own college years are somewhat fuzzy so I might be mis-remembering.

JLane

No one needs to tell me to calm down. I smoked more pot than all these people opening up this stupid pot shop and trying to shove it down your throats could ever dream of. Pot is a gateway drug. It led me to try a number of other illegal substances and ruined my life. That is why I am trying to help citizens of Oregon out by letting them know the dangers of it. You stupid people thinking this so called Greenheart place is going to benefit the community have your heads in the pot filled clouds. Just wait....dangerous things are going to happen and lives will be ruined. These people opening the pot shop are from Arizona and are trying to ruin our community. Boycott this horrible place and don't let them tell you pot is good....it is NOT good for you!!!! My life was ruined and I am on a mission to ban this horrible substance along with alcohol before people
Start harping on that. Get a clue people...pot
Causes so many horrible things and to continue
To try and lealize it and let it become acceptable in society is sad.

Rotwang

Wait, Linfield guys - Isn't there a minimum legal age for purchasing cannabis - one that the shops will be enforcing? I've said before that the evil drug war will not go away quietly.

yamhillbilly2

JLane- What's really sad here is that you admit that you couldn't handle pot, yet you continued smoking ( more than the people opening the shop). Have you no self control? You also seem to scream that pot is not good for anyone. Where do you get your info? If you chose to really look into, you can find lots of folks who benefit from maraijuana. I know a number of them and can tell you how pot helped them during chemo and other pain relief. Simply calling all of us who have the ability to enjoy pot without all the hysterical problems you experienced, and wanting to run all of us out of town, who the heck do you think you are? Maybe someone with your ignorance on the subject should choose to stop showering it on us.

Mudstump

JLane - the old saying goes, "There ain't nothing worse then a reformed (fill in the blank.)" We've all met them. The reformed smoker, drunk, druggie, sinner,.... I'm glad you found that pot isn't for you and were able to turn it around. However, if you don't like pot and don't want to use it....its simple....don't buy it or use it. There, now you can simply choose to live and let live and be on with your life. Have a great day!

john fritter

Hmm so let me get this right. JLane has an addictive personality and no self control thus managed to "ruin their life" and wants to blame it on "pot"? Just curious did the "pot" come find you and make you use it, or did you go and find it and use it on your own? From my personal experience people with no self control that make bad decisions only have themselves to blame. Some of those people are able to see and understand that to turn themselves around. Others seem to have to blame something or somebody else for the mistakes they have made, then take the attitude "if I cant do it nobody else should either"! I wonder...if I am allergic to peanuts but I'm not smart enough or don't have the control to stop eating them and loose everything because I'm constantly sick, does that mean nobody else should have access to peanuts? Because I'm sure everybody else out there is just like me!

Mudstump

john fritter - excellent...and right on!

Michael

As JLane says unfortunately like alcohol pot will be a drug that some folks cannot resist over doing. there will be life consequences. Meanwhile the rest of us can partake of pot as we do with alcohol in a responsible non-destructive manner without the burden of being a scoff law. The prohibition is over. Total agree with john fritter.

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