margo44by Margo Lucas

Well, there’s a whole lot of cannabis on the ballot this November.

Starting with Marion County ballot Measure 24-404. Voters will decide whether to allow the operation of Medical Marijuana Processing sites and Dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county. Also, in Marion County, Measure 24-405 will ask voters to decide whether to allow the operation of recreational marijuana businesses, including producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers, in the unincorporated areas of the county or outside city limits.

Voters should consider what positive effects these businesses operating will have on the county. Voting yes to allow these businesses to operate will bring much needed revenues to the county, through both state and presumably local taxes. In addition to revenues, these businesses will create much needed rural jobs.

Many timber jobs have been lost forever and these businesses will bring back much needed rural agricultural jobs to the area. Aumsville, Mill City, Gervais, Hubbard, Mt. Angel, and Scotts Mills also have measures on the ballot. In addition, Marion County, Salem, Detroit, Donald, Gates, Hubbard, Jefferson, Scotts Mills, Mt. Angel, Mill City, Keizer, Independence, and Polk County have placed on the ballot a 3% sales tax for recreational marijuana.

Voters are being asked to decide not just whether these businesses can operate, but the underlying issue involves revenues. If passed, these tax measures can help pay for much needed services.

If voters fail to pass the operating  measures, municipalities will lose out on the $43 million in state marijuana taxes for schools, mental health and treatment services, and state police.

Medical marijuana businesses have been operating in Oregon safely for years and recreational sales have been taking place since last October. Please vote yes to allow cannabis businesses to operate. Colorado and Washington have rolled out programs that have regulated marijuana in a positive way.

Regulated businesses keep marijuana out of the hands of children by having safeguards, the black market will only thrive if these businesses are voted down, and the black market has no safeguards.

A positive vote for cannabis businesses is a vote for increased revenues and good paying jobs, as well as keeping it out of the hands of minors. Many consumers are using non-psychoactive forms of cannabis in seeking relief.

The OLCC is rolling out a program that will regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. New child-resistant packaging and labeling requirements create greater safety and awareness.

The black market provides none of these safeguards. The Cannabis plant has been the victim of bad public policy for decades.

It is time it is brought out of the shadows and into the light, into its proper place in society as a beneficial herb that provides relief for many. Please cast your vote to allow these businesses to operate here in the Willamette Valley.

Margo Lucas is the owner of West Salem Cannabis and Cowgirl Cannabis. A believer in good communication and education, Lucas has advocated for the industry at city, county and state levels.