Others Say 7/25

City of Ashland makes shrewd move ahead of the curve

We have two words for the city of Ashland’s handling of the still-evolving medical marijuana situation: Pretty smart.

The Ashland City Council has approved a host of regulations — including one and possibly two taxes — on marijuana. In doing so, it inscribed the lines that marijuana-related businesses must stay within if they wish to operate in the city.

The regulations set in place a variety of rules that will help protect the residents of the city, medical marijuana users and the dispensaries that make the effort to operate on the right side of the law.

Among the rules are prohibitions against smoking marijuana or tobacco in the businesses, limiting operating hours, confining odors to within the dispensaries, restricting employment of people with drug records and prohibiting the production of extracts or use of open flames, which have led to explosions and fires elsewhere.

The council also agreed to impose a tax of up to 5 percent on the sale of medical marijuana and up to 10 percent on the sale of marijuana sold for recreational use.

Of course, recreational use of marijuana is not legal, but a statewide vote to legalize it is set for November. The measure prohibits local jurisdictions from imposing taxes on recreational marijuana, but it’s not clear that the prohibition would apply to existing taxes.

Ashland is smart not only in establishing taxes to help pay for the costs associated with potential enforcement issues, but also in recognizing the cultural shift that is underway and getting out in front of it.

That stands in stark contrast to several other local cities, including Medford, which have grasped at legal straws to fend off the establishment of any marijuana-related businesses.

City councils populated largely by older men who grew up in a different era are making decisions based on that era, and in doing so are placing their communities firmly behind the curve instead of in front of it.

We are not advocating here for the legalization of marijuana, which will undoubtedly bring its own issues for communities to deal with.

But medical marijuana and dispensaries to distribute it to patients are already legal.

The Ashland council recognizes that the winds have shifted and is setting up that city not only to deal with the shift, but also to provide a revenue stream to assist with the change and whatever it brings with it.

Pretty smart.

— Medford Mail Tribune


Memorial at mental hospital raises vital questions for today

They numbered in the thousands, the copper urns containing the cremated remains of patients who had been forgotten inside the halls of the old Oregon state mental hospital.

The urns, some 3,500 of them, were discovered in the bowels of the decrepit facility, where “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed. The urns were discovered in 2005, as lawmakers toured the hospital.

The discovery added a punctuation mark to the history of the hospital, which (as Associated Press reporter Jonathan Cooper noted recently) became a symbol of Oregon’s — and the nation’s — dark legacy of treating the mentally ill by warehousing them, out of sight, out of mind.

Between 1913 and 1971, more than 5,300 were cremated at the hospital. Most were patients at the mental institution, as Cooper reported, but not all of them. Some of them died at local hospitals or the state tuberculosis hospital. Some died at a state penitentiary or the Fairview Training Center, where people with developmental disabilities were institutionalized.

Some of the patients stayed for a lifetime at the hospital for conditions like depression and bipolar disorder — ailments that we now can treat on an outpatient basis.

The Associated Press story reported on a research effort to unearth the personal stories behind those urns — and to reunite the remains with surviving relatives. On Monday, officials dedicated a memorial to those patients.

Give a big measure of credit for this effort to state Senate President Peter Courtney, who led an effort to replace the hospital and build the memorial.

With any luck, the memorial will offer a stark warning about the personal (and societal) price we pay for trying to sweep mental health issues under the rug — a warning that should still resonate with chilling force even today.

“At the time, they just put them in a safe place and treated them with what they knew to treat them,” said Sharon Weber, who led the two-year research project to connect the lives of real people to their remains.

That was the reasoning they used back then. We know now where that led.

We like to think that we’ve made progress since then, and — truthfully — we have. The memorial is a good idea and long overdue. But it leaves unanswered vital questions: Who is being left in the shadows today? What can we do today to make sure we don’t have to install another memorial like this one?

— Albany Democrat-Herald

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