Shady Cove voters narrowly defeated recreational cannabis sales last November, but a medical dispensary owner hopes to overturn that rejection by going door to door to get support for a similar ballot initiative this May.
"I've been burning it at both ends," said Dan Gilbert, owner of Kush Gardens.
A ballot measure last November lost by just two votes — 774 to 772 — so Gilbert said he thinks he can persuade enough voters to change their minds.
He said he's already talked to 50 voters who told him they misunderstood the ballot measure previously and thought a "yes" vote meant support for recreational sales. The November ballot measure actually required a "no" vote to approve sales.
In the interests of clarity, Gilbert said his initiative will require a "yes" vote to approve recreational sales.
His initiative asks voters, "Shall Shady Cove allow recreational marijuana retailers?"
In addition, Gilbert is circulating another initiative that, if passed, would allow production and processing of recreational marijuana in indoor commercial locations.
Gilbert said his business is generating 10 percent of the sales it recorded prior to Jan. 1. Last year, the state allowed recreational marijuana to be sold on a temporary basis until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission developed new rules and cities got a chance to opt out of recreational sales.
So far, Gilbert has collected 240 of the required 356 signatures of registered voters. He's planning to collect about 400 in case some of the voters aren't registered.
He said that if the vote spread had been greater, he wouldn't have attempted another ballot measure.
"If it had been 100 or 200 in a town this size, I wouldn't give it a second thought," he said.
Gilbert also owns Kush Gardens in Medford, but closed the doors temporarily because he wasn't making enough from dispensing medical marijuana. He's applied for a license from the OLCC so that he can do recreational sales in the future.
Shady Cove Mayor Tom Sanderson said his city has extremely mixed feelings about the issue of recreational sales of marijuana as well as the close vote in the November election.
"It's a tough situation," he said. "I think it was a close thing, and I understand where Dan's coming from."
At an upcoming City Council meeting, Sanderson said the council will consider a resolution that would allow recreational sales without going to the voters. However, he said the council will find it's very difficult to overturn the will of the voters.
At a recent council meeting, up to 50 people expressed their opinions on both sides of the issue, he said.
"There are very strong opinions on both sides," he said.
Sanderson said the city has two medical marijuana dispensaries, and they haven't had any issues with the sheriff.
"The calls from a police standpoint — zero," he said.
He said there have been very few reports of teenagers smoking pot, though there have been cases where people are smoking outdoors in and around the city.
— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.