By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Debate continues on rural pot shops

It’s rebuttal time on the idea of populating Yamhill County with marijuana shops along rural highways. Although the deadline is past for submitting written testimony to the county planning commission, rebuttal testimony will be accepted until 5 p.m. Thursday.

Proponents say roadside pot shops would operate like wine tasting rooms, modeled after wineries and microbreweries. One can almost envision the next step being promotion of marijuana tasting experiences similar to wine tasting, but, of course, that would be a colossally stupid idea.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Consider the quoted words of marijuana grower Michael Cawley, who wants to launch this idea south of McMinnville along Highway 18: “Let what we do shine … give Oregon a different idea of what real cannabis is … It’s not punk 21-year-olds smoking doobies.”

No, these presumably would be serious connoisseurs of altered mental states. And it’s such a charming, bucolic setting near Lawrence Gallery that people probably wouldn’t even notice a few additional fatal crashes along Highway 18, already recognized as one of our most dangerous stretches of rural highway.

It’s no surprise to hear marijuana promoted as a major tourist attraction for Oregon. More and more, people have come to believe that wines and marijuana are natural partners in the tourism world, although many people still consider that the Titanic of bad ideas.

In thinking about highway pot shops, people should remember the words of Portland attorney Michael Romano, who specializes in marijuana DUII cases:

“While Oregon law presumes that a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 by weight is intoxicated or impaired by the use of alcohol, there is no such presumption if marijuana metabolites are present in small quantities or large quantities. The mere presence of marijuana metabolites over minimal threshold levels — combined with an officer’s suspicion of recent marijuana use — could be the basis for arrest and criminal charges.”

In other words, anyone who takes the tiniest puff from a marijuana shop purchase before driving away is, by definition, guilty of DUII. Imaginative law enforcement strategies might produce a financial bonanza for Yamhill County as those $1,000 DUII fines start rolling in, but I doubt that’s the kind of tourist attraction people have in mind.

Perhaps rural marijuana shops would lead to a few more highway tragedies, but if so, we could soothe our consciences by remembering that we simply are “letting what we do shine.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.  

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