Pot protest

Published in the Argus Observer December 16, 2014. 

Local advocates for medical marijuana approached the Ontario City Council again at their Monday night meeting, holding another small protest outside City Hall earlier that day.

“I’m here to talk about the ban that you guys have on the medical marijuana facilities that we have taken 17 years to develop,” said Ontario resident, Stormy Ray. “You have a place to go get your medicine, you have a place and you know that it’s good. We don’t. We have the black market and people like me doing their darndest to produce a quality medicine for the people that are using medical marijuana.”

Ray and fellow medical marijuana advocates have been approaching various area city councils on the topic since February of this year, when Oregon passed Senate Bill 1351 allowing local governments to regulate pot facilities. Under the bill, cities may ban medical marijuana dispensaries until May 1, 2015, even though the facilities are allowed under current state law.

Ontario City Council voted in early April of this year to place a moratorium on all medical pot dispensaries within city limits, a ban which will end at the beginning of this coming May.

“The federal government has released their stronghold on all of the Indian reservations across the United States. They now can have medical marijuana they now can sell it and grow it,” Ray said. “The Federal excuse which was so weak anyway,  is over.”

Ray referenced a December 11 release of a memo from the U.S. Department of Justice directing US attorneys not to prosecute Native Americans growing and selling marijuana on their own, sovereign lands.

“I’ll be meeting with Brian Wolfe in the morning at 10 am,” Ray said. “It’s not over and I will be back. The people need their medicine.”

Jerry Kush, an Ontario resident, also approached the Council Monday night, with pleas for them to lift the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Ontario.

“I don’t care about recreational [marijuana], I want medicine,” Jerry Kush, another Ontario resident said. “It does heal people, and you have to use the whole plant. Isn’t smoking, it’s massage oil, there’s tinctures, there’s all kinds of things [that can be used for healing.]”

Kush approached the Council in early November and was nearly escorted from the building when his comments became inflammatory. He apologized to the Council for his behavior during that session on Monday night.

“I got a little passionate and a little loud and I apologize,” Kush said. “I’m a different person than what I was a month ago, completely. I didn’t believe in God. I was depressed. The last couple of weeks I’ve had a spiritual awakening. I’ve been born again.”

Kush explained that he’s been put on anti-depressants, but is allergic to all of them on the market and only uses chemical-free healing techniques, such as medical marijuana.

“I’m asking you, have some compassion on these people,” Kush said.

Councilor Ron Verini had prepared a statement for the medical marijuana advocates, explaining his opinion on the matter, however after saying their piece, all of the medical marijuana advocates vacated the Council Chambers.

“I am aware that there are some in our community that are demanding that we lift the moratorium of the medical marijuana dispensaries,” Verini wrote in his statement. “I also understand that many in our community have expressed an interest in keeping the moratorium in place. When the vote was taken on this Council to give our city a year to plan for this, it overwhelmingly passed.  I believe that it was the right thing to do and I still believe that this waiting period gives us an opportunity for our city to prepare.”

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