portland city council

Oregon: Portland Commissioner Wants 'Green Light District' For Marijuana Businesses Downtown


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Portland should ease its restrictions on marijuana stores in the downtown area to encourage development of a "green light district," according to one city commissioner.

"We have a nightlife district," Commissioner Dan Saltzman said, reports Willamette Week. "Why not have a green light district?"

The Portland City Council on Wednesday will consider amendments to its recently adopted weed regulations, including a requirement for at least 1,000 feet between retail pot stores. Saltzman said he plans to introduce another amendment on Wednesday which would lift the 1,000-foot buffer entirely in central Portland, which includes downtown and the Lloyd District.

Marijuana stores would still be required to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, Saltzman said.

The commissioner's plan would require two more votes from the City Council. It grew from his concern and frustration over Portland's over-regulation of weed after voters approved legalization.

"It seems like it's creating a nightmare out there, on top of already complicated rules from the state," he said.

Loosening the rules downtown would make it possible for pot shops to cater to tourists, while also protecting the rest of Portland's neighborhoods from being unduly impacted by the proliferation of shops, according to Saltzman.

"Downtown can cater to 'green' tourism -- a new kind of green tourism," he said.

Oregon: Portland City Council Delays Vote On Marijuana Retailer Regulations


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Portland City Council on Wednesday delayed voting on new regulations for marijuana retailers due to concerns that the proposed rules could shut down existing businesses.

One dispensary owner told the Council that regulations intended to stop too many marijuana retailers from operating in close proximity could have unintended consequences, reports Brad Schmidt at The Oregonian. "The goal here is not put people out of business," said Mayor Charlie Hales.

City officials plan to issue marijuana retail licenses on a first-come, first-served basis, with the intent to level the playing field in what could quickly become a lucrative business. Officials hope to prevent marijuana stores from operating within 1,000 feet of each other.

If two shops are operating within 1,000 feet of each other, a new retailer could beat an established retailer in the application process, forcing the existing shop to shut down.

Officials now are considering exemptions that would allow case-by-case evaluations of siting issues; in some instances more than one pot shop may be allowed within 1,000 feet. Commissioner Nick Fish suggested this change, recommending something with a "clear legal standard."

Existing businesses could also be grandfathered in so that they could remain open.

Oregon: Portland Approves 2015 Hempstalk Festival


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hempstalk 2015 is on! The Portland City Council on Thursday voted to grant Hempstalk a permit for its 2015 festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park downtown. "We will have our Hempstalk festival," said organizer Paul Stanford.

The Council, on a 3-1 vote, overturned the Portland Parks Bureau's earlier decision to deny the permit, reports Andrew Theen at The Orergonian. The Police Bureau also opposed Hempstalk, a free 11-year-old festival which celebrates and advocates the legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.

The lone "no" vote came from Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Parks Bureau.

The decision means Hempstalk 2015 could occur around the same time as the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in Oregon, on October 1. "If I had my preference, it would be the first weekend of October," said Hempstalk organizer Stanford of the Campaign of the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH).

Parks officials, meanwhile, claimed the event is set for September 26 and 27. Stanford said he had "no idea" where they got that date.

"It sounds like this event was imperfect," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on Thursday. "It sounds like there were some people smoking marijuana there." But Mayor Hales added that most large events in Portland are imperfect.

Oregon: Hempstalk Festival 'Will Never Surrender;' Stanford Appeals Permit Denial Again


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"We will never surrender." That is the message Paul Stanford, organizer of the annual Hempstalk festival, has for the Portland City Council.

Portland parks officials last November denied a permit to Hempstalk for its 2015 waterfront event, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian. The free cannabis and hemp festival celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

Stanford and his supporters will be back in three weeks for another appeal hearing before the Portland City Council. The conflict dates back at least to 2013 when parks and police officials claimed festival organizers had a "demonstrated inability" to control pot use and behavior at prior festivals.

"Any appeal of a parks permitting decision making its way to a City Council hearing is unusual, but two hearings in consecutive years is downright peculiar," wrote The Oregonian's Theen.

City officials, almost certainly not coincidentally, mailed the denial notice just one day after Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana sales. It was the second denial for Stanford in two years.

The dispute, as in past years, enters on the public consumption of marijuana at the festival.

Stanford said last year that Hempstalk would be "the only place in Portland where marijuana wasn't consumed on that day."

Oregon: Portland Mayor Wants Hempstalk Festival at Waterfront Park


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Portland City Council on Thursday told the city's Parks & Recreation Bureau, which denied Hempstalk Festival a permit for Tom McCall Waterfront Park, to negotiate with the festival's organizers in order to find a place and time for the event in the park. After more than two hours of testimony, during which the Mayor went to bat for the event, they left the door open for the pro-cannabis group to hold its 2014 gathering on the waterfront.

"It seems to me that the place it ought to take place is Waterfront Park -- if the event is manageable," said Mayor Charlie Hales, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian.

Thursday's hearing was the first time city parks officials could remember an appeal of a permit ruling going before the City Council. The Parks Bureau usually doesn't deny permits for events it has approved in previous years.

Hempstalk 2014 would be the 10th annual event, which has been held at several locations in the Portland area over the years, including at Waterfront Park in 2005 and 2006.

Maine: Portland Residents To Vote On Legalizing Marijuana Possession


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The voters in Portland, Maine, will decide in November whether to legalize the possession of marijuana in the city.

The Portland City Council on Monday voted to allow residents to vote November 5 on a referendum which would make it legal for adults 21 and older to have up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, reports The Associated Press. It would still be illegal to consume marijuana in public.

Supporters turned in more than 2,500 signatures to Portland city officials back in May. The City Council on Monday decided to send it to voters, rather than simply adopting the ordinance.

The ordinance, if passed, would conflict with both U.S. federal law, which prohibits marijuana for any purpose, and with Maine state law, which allows cannabis, but only for patients who have a doctor's authorization for medicinal purposes.

Possession of less than 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana is a civil violation in Maine, punishable by a fine of $200 to $400, reports Nick DeLuca at BostInno.

(Graphic: Citizens for a Safer Portland: Marijuana Legalization in 2013)

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