Advocates aiming to legalize recreational marijuana sales in Klamath Falls have hit 40 percent of the required signatures needed to make it on this year’s upcoming election ballot.
The initiative would give the green light for recreational marijuana and cannabis product shops to do business in Klamath Falls, in addition to adding a 3 percent retail tax to cannabis products. The initiative also asks the city to form a cannabis advisory committee.
Petitioners have until July 15 to submit more than 1,700 valid signatures to the state to qualify as an election item in November.
As of last Wednesday, chief petitioner Ed Medina Jr. told the Herald and News they had verified 676 signatures, or 38 percent, after submitting hundreds of signatures to the state for verification.
That number grew by 2 percent in just a week.
“We’ve got a ways to go yet,” Medina said in a phone interview Monday.
Klamath Falls is one of 79 cities in Oregon that currently has restrictions on sales of recreational marijuana and cannabis products, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s website. At least 16 of Oregon’s 36 counties, including Klamath County, also have restrictions in place.
“It’s a legal product and there’s no place to legally get it,” Medina said. “That doesn’t make a lot of practical sense.”
Medina said he and others continue to gather signatures across several stores and venues in Klamath Falls.
He also plans to have petitioners out at events such as Third Thursday and the upcoming Kruise of Klamath car show.
Those who sign must be registered to vote and print their names legibly in order for it to count. A list of places to sign or review information can be found online at klamathstrong.com.
Medina also said he plans to turn in another batch of 1,000 signatures either Tuesday or Wednesday. Medina previously told the Herald and News that he expected only about half of the signatures — they had roughly 1,500 collected in May — to come back valid.
“We’re hoping for better validity, “Medina said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll get better as we go.”
Past, present challenges
Past and current efforts to legalize recreational marijuana sales in Klamath Falls and Klamath County have not been without their challenges.
Following the approval of Measure 91 throughout Oregon in 2015, Klamath Falls City Council voted 4-1 to ban sales in the city.
In 2017, a chief petitioner who also wanted to bring marijuana sales back on the ballot claimed he had to withdraw his own petition due to threats he heard others received, though there were no first-hand encounters mentioned.
Even in March, a petitioner at the Klamath County Fairgrounds was approached by a nearby home show vendor who said they could not be in the parking lot.
Petitioners and Klamath County officials later clarified that the petitioner was in his right to be on the grounds and resumed signature collecting the next day.