High turnout expected at pot panel
Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree, County Commissioner Mary Stern and Dayton City Councilor Annette Frank will participate in the forum moderated by Compassionate Oregon Director and lobbyist Anthony Taylor.
The forum is being organized by Compassionate Oregon, a political action committee advocating for the rights of medical marijuana patients.
Crabtree is one of two panelists served on the state’s Rules Advisory Committee for House Bill 3460, which legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon.
Panelists are expected to make statements on how the new law could impact their individual offices and jurisdictions as well as speaking to the potential impact on the economy and public safety.
Then, the moderator will ask panelists specific questions before opening the forum to questions from audience members.
The Oregon Health Authority plans to begin accepting applications for dispensaries on March 3. Multiple Yamhill County residents have already approached local boards to discuss plans to open local dispensaries.
Crabtree served on the 13-member committee established under the marijuana dispensary bill and said he was frustrated by the experience.
“When I was asked to serve on that panel, I thought it was a good opportunity to fix some things, but 3460 was already signed into law by the governor, so my concerns about it were moot points. We weren’t there to discuss the law, and the law is not good. There are way too many flaws in that law,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree said one of those flaws is Gov. John Kitzhaber calling for “extraordinary vigorous enforcement” of the new dispensaries, but the law allocates only $400,000 a year, enough to cover two office workers and two field inspectors for the whole state.
“Right there is a critical error in my opinion,” he said. “That is an absolute setup for failure. That was one of the many, many examples of frustrations I had. We came up with concerns to take back to the legislature for them to change the law.” But, he added, the February session is shorter and with everything else on the table, legislators are unlikely to take up these issues before the law goes into effect in March.
Though a high turnout is expected, Crabtree said he thinks most of those in attendance to be in support of medical marijuana dispensaries.
He said with all the testimony taken by the Rules Advisory Committee, none was in opposition. Crabtree said he thought that was because those who are against it don’t realize what exactly is happening, or how quickly it will happen.
Frank, another panelist and Compassionate Oregon boardmember, said the forum was designed to allow people to ask questions, vet concerns and to know what to expect from the new law.