KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Effective in February, recreational cannabis sales will be allowed in Klamath Falls.
Voters made their decision Tuesday night in what was a relatively close vote tally. As of 10 p.m., 3,106 local voters said they wanted to allow sales to begin within city limits, while roughly 2,891 said they were against the measure.
This follows efforts in July after more than 1,800 signatures were gathered and verified to get recreational marijuana sales back on the ballot.
Chief petitioner Ed Medina Jr., owner of A Better Way Medicinal Alternatives on Washburn Way, was among the supporters and volunteers celebrating Tuesday night.
He and others called it a win for Klamath Falls and local industry, many of whom have continued to say that they would prefer to see product regulated as opposed to letting the marijuana black market flourish.
Now he and others say they’ll look to work with Klamath Falls City Council to form a cannabis advisory board to help with regulations. He said that they want to create solutions that “everyone’s happy with.”
In terms of regulations, Medina addressed that Oregon Liquor Control Commission licensing could still take 10 to 14 months for any new shops or facilities in the area.
“We could be looking at a year or more,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot more work. We’re not done yet.”
The petition initiative group, dubbed Klamath Strong, put on an aggressive volunteer campaign to contest the opposition with Klamath Public Safety, a political action committee funded through Sky Lakes Medical Center and many other local organizations.
The anti-pot PAC managed to raise more than $23,000 for campaign support, materials and media, which also includes at least two billboards in Klamath Falls. The initiative petition group raised more than $5,300 in comparison.
Medina said that getting the measure on the November ballot would not have been possible without additional volunteers and supporters — some of whom faced obstacles of their own.
Franklin Wesbrook said he went door-to-door, stood on street corners and helped with the initiative petition in other ways, regardless of the fact that he shattered his leg in a car wreck last year.
Wesbrook said he was also a user of medical cannabis. He expects to be fully recovered from his injury within the next year.
“It’s going to do a lot of good for this community,” Wesbrook said.
John Book, a man who also uses medical marijuana for his multiple sclerosis symptoms and spoke out during an August Klamath Falls City Council meeting, was also among those celebrating.
He said he was “flabbergasted” as to why the measure even needed to be brought up in the first place, adding that he believed keeping recreational sales out would only further take potential tax gains away from the area.
“The only question has been is my community going to benefit from it or is the black market going to benefit from it?” Book said.
“So I’m happy it passed,” Book added. “Good deal, man.”