Pot ban fails in Cannon Beach

A measure to ban marijuana sales in Cannon Beach narrowly failed Election Day with a 51 percent to 49 percent vote.

A similar measure in Manzanita also failed with voters, 308 against prohibition and 149 in favor of it.

Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach voters, meanwhile, overwhelmingly approved a 3 percent local tax on recreational marijuana sales to support public safety.

In 2014, marijuana-legalization Measure 91 passed with 63 percent of the vote in Cannon Beach. In July, a group of residents gathered 155 certified signatures and successfully brought forth Measure 4-179, asking voters whether recreational sales should be banned. Heading the committee of residents were Jeremy Randolph, Marlene and Gary Laws, Nancy Giasson and Molly Edison.

In all, more than 50 cities and counties across Oregon considered banning marijuana sales Tuesday.

“The primary purpose of putting the measure on the ballot was to let the people of Cannon Beach vote on it,” Randolph said.

Randolph said he was a prosecutor in Washington state and supported legalizing marijuana. “None of us dealt with marijuana users committing crimes,” he said.

Randolph said he is not excited about the prospect of marijuana stores opening near his home, but that the stores would not have a significant effect on crime.

“People do not come to Cannon Beach to buy marijuana,” he said. “If they want to get high, all they have to do is look at the natural beauty of this area.”

The Cannon Beach City Council had already voted 4-1 in July to restrict marijuana sales to three separate commercial zones. Under the ordinance, retailers could operate downtown from Ecola Creek south to Washington Street, midtown from Harrison Street south to Elliot Way and in Tolovana Park from Delta Street south to the Sandcastle Condominiums.

“To have marijuana sales in the window downtown where there are families, it seems out of character,” Councilor Mike Benefield said at the time. “It doesn’t seem like a proper image for Cannon Beach.”

City Manager Brant Kucera said marijuana retailers have waited to apply for spots in Cannon Beach until after Tuesday’s vote.

“They have so much access in other communities, it doesn’t seem to be a pressing need,” added Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Court Carrier in July.

Under Measure 91, the state set a 17 percent tax on all marijuana sales. The measure also allowed cities to tack on an additional 3 percent tax to support public safety.

Some marijuana retailers have been supportive of the local tax. Nicholas Palazzo, co-owner of The Farmacy in Astoria, said it’s only fair that police get extra funding while having to cover all the new marijuana stores.

Besides The Farmacy, there are four other dispensaries operating in Astoria, along with three in the planning stages. Seaside has four marijuana stores, with a fifth near the Oregon Highway 103 turnoff for Jewell.

Warrenton, which has adopted an ordinance restricting marijuana stores to the east side of U.S. Highway 101, has one in the planning stages on East Harbor Drive. The business was granted a license before the restrictions came into place.

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