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Culture » Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals 6/10-6/17

The Final Countdown

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On June 2, the Bend Chamber set out to clear up some confusion about Measure 91 (the law making recreational cannabis use legal beginning July 1) at Bend's Town Hall meeting. The panel included members of different parts of the community, including representatives from the legal community, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (tasked with regulating recreation weed), Bend City Council, a local dispensary, and the Deschutes County District Attorney's office.

The meeting addressed many concerns about the changes the community will face in July. One major concern continues to be the potential rise in cannabis use among minors. Jeremy Kwit of Bloom Well addressed this by pointing out that the new regulations will improve community well-being: "When you have well-run dispensaries, we put low-level drug dealers out of business... What the research shows is that in states where there are regulated cannabis marketplaces, both medical and non, teen access to cannabis drops, and teen usage drops."

Kurt Barker of Karnopp Peterson LLP brought up legal issues faced by both employees and employers, saying, "Employers who are concerned about this issue should be clarifying their position now... As we go through this transition, people need to know there is not a constitutional right to smoke pot... Companies don't have to accommodate medical marijuana."

Shedding some light on what some of his clients face regularly, Michael Hughes of Hughes Law gave his perspective on the upcoming changes and needed reform. He explained the huge tax rates dispensaries are subjected to, as well as their inability to access banks and credit cards.

"This is something we should've done a long time ago, but we're doing it now, and if we're gonna do it, let's do it right. And let's not create an industry that's handcuffed with both hands behind their back," Hughes said, where people are "trying to do business in an upfront and honest way, and yet every time they turn around there's some bureaucrat or somebody else throwing a cog in their machine."

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