MADRAS, OR -- Madras voters may get the final say in whether recreational marijuana businesses will be allowed to open in the city. Mayor Royce Embanks says about 60% of those who spoke at this week’s town hall favor a ban, but the Council hasn’t yet made a final decision. "Most of the councilors want to be better educated, so some have already gone to some of the medical dispensaries – one in Bend, and one here in Madras. And, I think they were even going to visit a grower’s site. So, we want to be better educated in this because it is a big decision."
Because 56% of Jefferson County voted against Measure 91 in November, HB 3400 allows the city to impose a ban on pot businesses. But, Madras Mayor Royce Embanks believes Councilors are leaning toward sending the issue back to voters. "I really think it’s because we want the voters to make this decision; it’s their city and they need to weigh in on it. There’s very seldom that cities have the option to decide what laws or what ordinances from the state- to decide if they want to keep them or not." He tells KBND, "This is almost like a once in a lifetime chance. The state has offered us this opportunity. And so, I think people are really leaning toward that to say ‘we’re not the same as the Willamette Valley.’ There really is an emotion and a feeling that Willamette Valley dictates what all of us in the rest of the state have to live with."
Councilors can choose to impose a ban, allow the businesses or send the question to voters. Public comment will be accepted at City Hall through Monday. They are expected to discuss the issue at their regular Council meeting on Tuesday, September 8. But, Embanks says a final decision could be pushed to their September 22 meeting.