Backers of an initiative to legalize some recreational marijuana facilities in Creswell have collected enough signatures to refer the question to voters this November.
Representatives of the new marijuana business venture One Gro submitted 1,000 signatures in total to the city in two batches in late July and August. That was enough to clear the 509 valid signatures threshold to send the question to voters, city officials determined this week.
Creswell residents narrowly voted to ban all recreational marijuana facilities just last November. But One Gro, which wants to open a dispensary near a gas station just off Interstate 5, hopes they’re willing to quickly reverse themselves. One Gro is led by high-profile Eugene attorney Mike Arnold.
“I am humbled and grateful to the residents of Creswell who supported the initiative petition,” One Gro CEO Dan Isaacson said in a prepared statement. “We’ve had hundreds of conversations with residents of Creswell as part of our initiative gathering process. We shared what the vision is for our company and learned a great deal about what people want in a partnership with us.”
The Creswell City Council will hold a special meeting next week to determine what the next steps will be.
Under normal circumstances, the council would have the option of simply adopting the proposed ordinance without sending it to voters at all, rejecting it and letting voters decide, or approving a competing measure for voters to consider.
But the city attorney believes that the City Council doesn’t have the power to simply adopt this particular ordinance, Mayor David Stram said Friday. That’s because of the state statute that sets the rules for local marijuana laws. But One Gro officials believe that the City Council still could legally bypass the citizen vote, if they wanted to.
The proposed ordinance has tight restrictions on where dispensaries could locate in Creswell. The retail operations would be allowed only in certain commercial areas and not within 1,000 feet of a city park or another dispensary.
It also would allow pot wholesalers and processors to potentially locate in Creswell, but only in commercial and industrial areas. Commercial grow operations still would be prohibited.
Under state rules, voters can only approve a 3 percent local tax on recreational marijuana sales in a general election. The next general election won’t take place until November 2018. That means if the ban is overturned, retail marijuana sales would be untaxed in Creswell for the first year.
But One Gro has committed to providing 3 percent of their sales revenue during that time frame to a nonprofit instead.
In response to doubts about how much tax revenue the One Gro dispensary might eventually generate, the company also is committing to a minimum tax contribution to the city of $105,000, even if their sales are below that level.
That would be enough to initially cover the cost of one new deputy in Creswell. The city now contracts with Lane County government for three full-time deputies and a sergeant.