Eastern Oregon gets its first cannabis fest

Stormy Ray, who was one of the chief petitioners to lift the county ban on sales of marijuana, turns in petitions in this photo from August of 2018. The organizer behind the Eastern Oregon Cannabis Festival, Ray is a local advocate for medical marijuana and disability rights.

VALE — The initiative petition to lift the county ban on retail sales of marijuana and related projects did not make the November General Election ballot, and that petition drive will end here.

Co-chief petitioner Stormy Ray reported Wednesday and Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter confirmed, that only 417 signatures of the 600 plus signatures submitted by the Aug. 8 deadline had been verified. That was 36 signatures short of the needed 453.

It is disappointing not to be on the November ballot, given the effort to have it put there, Ray said in a phone interview. She said petitioners will not continue the petition drive.

“There were several mistakes made [in the signature gathering] that reduced the number of qualifying signatures,” she said in a printed statement.

Rather than continue the petition drive to get the measure on the ballot in a future election, Ray said she plans to focus her efforts on education.

“We can do a really good education on cannabis,” Ray said in the interview.

She said that there will likely be some action at the city and county levels to bring about change in local bans on marijuana sales.

“People who are in accidents or have illnesses need to have alternatives available when the regular pharmaceuticals do not work,” Ray said.

“We really had a really good effort,” she said. “We had fantastic volunteers.”

A similar initiative that will be on the November ballot for the city of Ontario to lift the sales ban there will pass, Ray predicted.

Her petition was for unincorporated areas of the county.

Malheur County Court had taken action to impose a 3 percent tax after the initiative petition was launched; the failure of the petition ends the county’s action.

Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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