Fears smolder over pot grows

Written for The Argus Observer. Published on August 12, 2015

ONTARIO, OR — A new concern has popped up on Ontario Fire Chief Al Higinbotham’s radar, and that is the fire hazard that cannabis grow sites — both medical and recreational — could have brought with them when they moved into Ontario.

It was a July 24 fire in an unoccupied Portland grow house that piqued Higinbotham’s interest. He said Portland fire officials initially thought the cause of the fire was related to cannabis growing practices. Ultimately the fire’s cause was found to be an error in electrical wiring, according to an article from Portland’s KATU, channel 2 news, but the concept still has Higinbotham worried.

“We’re seeing that a lot, people buying or renting houses here in Ontario and just using them for grow sites,” Higinbotham said. “We haven’t had any fires in grows yet, but that’s not to say that we won’t.”

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Oregon city bans marijuana dispensaries

Written for The Argus Observer. Published on July 17, 2015

In one meeting and without the full Council present, the Ontario City Council at its Thursday work session made the decision to ban all marijuana dispensaries within city limits. The swift work was made under an emergency resolution after public comment was heard.

Between 80 and 100 citizens of Ontario, surrounding Oregon areas, and of Payette and Washington County attended the meeting. Members of law enforcement, two recreational dispensary owners from Spokane, Washington, and Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, were also there.

The group filled the entire Council Chambers, and many were forced to stand in the hallway while they took turns making comments to the City Council. Continue reading “Oregon city bans marijuana dispensaries”

Medical dispensaries have to wait until August 1 to open

Written for The Argus Observer. Published on May 1, 2015. 

Though Ontario’s moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries has been extended until Aug. 1, city officials are bracing for shops potentially opening their doors today.

Today marks the end of the state-mandated medical marijuana dispensary moratorium, and some dispensaries might decide to ignore the Aug. 1 deadline.

Stormy Ray, who spearheads the Stormy Ray Cardholders Foundation, said there is a good possibility that Ontario will see medical dispensaries open for business sometime today.“I’m just about to call the Boise Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program to see if they know of anybody who isn’t going to open up,” Ray said. “All of [the medical dispensaries in Ontario] would like to take out a grievance [against the city] for what’s been done to them.” Continue reading “Medical dispensaries have to wait until August 1 to open”

To ban or not to ban pot shops

Written for The Argus Observer. Printed on March 22, 2015.

Ontario city officials are still deciding whether marijuana storefronts or dispensaries will be allowed in Ontario. For his part, Police Chief Mark Alexander would like to see them banned permanently.

He approached the City Council on the topic at its last meeting, directly after the Council heard from Aaron Varella, a Boise resident who will soon be relocating to Ontario and would like to open a recreational dispensary in the city.

“I’m here to let you know my plans,” Varella said. “I’m open to any constructive ideas on what to do as we move along.”

Using medical marijuana is legal in Oregon, and recreational marijuana will be legal July 1. The city of Ontario has extended its ban on medical marijuana dispensaries from May 1 to Aug. 1, but city officials have yet to address recreational dispensaries.

“I’d like to formally ask for the consideration of a ban,” Alexander said. “We just had public comments on this, but I’d like to see a ban of medical and recreational dispensaries.”

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