Those involved in or in support of the local marijuana industry are planning to hold a free, public workshop in April to spread awareness on their effort to overturn a ban on the recreational industry in Klamath County.
Organizers of a referendum submitted enough signatures to put Measure 18-105 on the ballot, but supporters Tuesday were trying to rally as much support and as soon as possible. The group of cannabis supporters and activists voiced their resolve to pass the measure, which would overturn a ban on recreational pot shops in Klamath County.
“If we don’t overturn this measure, you might as well forget the cannabis industry in this county,” said Ed Medina, owner of A Better Way Medicinal Alternatives, a Klamath Falls medical marijuana dispensary. “What we’re talking about isn’t just affecting the recreational (industry), this affects the medical program just as much.”
Medina, Laughing Lotus Farms owners Ilo and Melissa Ferroggiaro and producer Brandon Neff helped organize the meeting at Elmer’s Restaurant.
Medina said according to legislation recently signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Liquor Control Commission-licensed recreational pot stores can sell medical marijuana products untaxed, which makes him wonder: “What’s the need for a medical dispensary?”
“The only thing you can legally do after next month in this county is grow,” he added.
Medina worries about the future of medical dispensaries if the ban on recreational pot shops is not overturned.
Mazama High School graduate and medical marijuana grower Doug Blankenship was among the roughly 30 people who attended the meeting at Elmer’s Restaurant.
“Most likely we’re not going to have the funds to put television ads out but we’ve got a lot of people who are passionate about this,” Blankenship said.
“It’s all of our livelihoods.”
Blankenship said he’s been growing medical marijuana for four patients at a time during the last five years.
“Nobody in this room is rich off of the marijuana industry,” Blankenship said. “Everyone in this room is working their butts off to try to pay their bills and to try to make sure patients have their medicine.
“This recreational industry is important because we can actually start pushing it out there and bringing in more money from the recreational sales.”
Attendees shared their thoughts on the industry and the need to bring everyone together to support cannabis in Klamath County, if only for the sake of more jobs.
“I’m very pro-cannabis,” said Steve Ball, who is running for county commissioner. He believes the industry can bolster jobs within the county. “I want recreational marijuana in this county.”
Lyncho Ruiz, also running for a county commission spot, shared his perspective.
“I’ve been an advocate for cannabis pretty much all my life,” Ruiz said.
“I’ve been doing a lot of growing for a lot of folks … whatever means that I can do in my position, I will do and am in 100 percent support of these measures.”
The group will host a free public workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, April 11 at the YMCA at Fairview school with speakers who can share on the topic. They are hoping to draw candidates running for office, current office holders, and the general public. The group has also gathered enough funds to erect two billboards promoting their message. Depending on funds, Medina hopes to erect the signs along Highway 97 North and Highway 39 South.
Currently the group is working to spread their message at a variety of public events as well as to get register voters by April 27 in time to vote in the May 17 election.