SISTERS, OR -- Sisters voters will get another chance to weigh in on the debate over legalized marijuana. Earlier this month, City Council and staff met with residents to talk about whether pot businesses should be allowed, and – if so – the time, place and manner ("TPM") in which they could operate. This week, a majority of the Council agreed to send the issue to voters. "Essentially what we’re going to do is prepare some ballot language for the November election, because these votes can only happen on even years, so this is perfect timing. We’re going to see what the public wants," Mayor Chuck Ryan tells KBND News.
Ryan says the decision comes after community meetings and lots of research, "We’ve got direction; we heard loud and clear from the public on this, and I did a lot of interviews, personally, with our neighboring cities and so we think we’re doing the right thing." He adds, "Redmond is totally against it. They’ve been mimicking what Sisters has right now, they don’t seem to be changing anything in the near future." If voters approve it in November, Mayor Ryan believes Sisters regulations will fall somewhere in between those tight restrictions in Redmond and the more permissive Bend.
In 2014, Sisters voters narrowly approved Measure 91, 51%-49%, which legalized Oregon's recreational pot industry. Ryan says a lot has changed since then, and he believes it's time to see where the community stands, now.
He says there's a lot of work to do before November, "The other thing we want to do is kind of try to focus on education in the meantime. There’s a lot of information and lack of information and misinformation, so we want to see if we can get a little bit more clarity on the whole issue." Mayor Ryan says, "So, we’re going to prepare ballot language. We are going to continue the process with our 'TPM' regulations so they are ready in a timely fashion if and when the vote comes through and it’s positive, we’re ready to launch with regulations." He expects ballot language to be finalized in the summer, and potential "TPM" regulations ready to roll out in January, if voters legalize the industry inside city limits. The ballot could include multiple questions, regarding both the recreational and medical marijuana industries, which Ryan believes are merging.