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Don’t Smoke the Messenger: WTF Grants Pass?

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In yet another example of last-ditch desperation to avoid progress, the Grants Pass City Council is currently drafting a law that would ban outdoor marijuana growing.

Considering the region’s continuing political slide into being a forested version of Mad Max, that would essentially make it the only law in Grants Pass. Apparently it’s all well and good to strap as many fully-automatic machine guns to to your penis as you like, and then spin around in a circle shooting indiscriminately while shouting fire in a crowded theater to ward off the BLM, but God forbid you have your choice of plants in your garden.

But, just for the sake of argument, let’s examine the city’s position.

Mayor Darin Fowler told KOBI News on May 12 that there were two central issues: the odor from mature plants and possible temptation for criminals to steal marijuana.

“An olfactory scale, … has eluded both the perfumers practicing the creation of scents, and the scientists studying the mechanisms of their perception,” Noam Sobel of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel wrote in his paper Measuring Smells.

Translated from second-language lab geek: smells have no objective yardstick to measure them. What one person perceives as a deafening stink, another doesn’t even notice. When you also acknowledge flowers smell, as do lawns and pine trees and fertilizer and about a billion other things that can go in a garden or lawn, some of which people are highly allergic to, and none of which are potentially being banned, let’s admit it is this argument that stinks.

Additionally, Oregon has a Right to Farm law, which dissallows localities from regulating agriculture due to smell. I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t say whether it applies. But I know I wouldn’t risk taxpayer dollars trying to defend it in court with that hanging over my head.

As for the theft problem? Why someone would risk a felony burglary charge to steal a plant they could grow or just get at the store is a mystery to me. I’m not saying it will never happen, just that this is not a valid reason to regulate people’s gardens. People have stolen my tomatoes before. No reasonable city council would ever ban growing them.

Finally, “We are also a very touristy town place in Grants Pass and that is not something that is going to enhance our ability to attract tourist, so we decided as a city that that is best for our entire community,” Mayor Fowler told KOBI.

First, Mr. Fowler, let me bust your bubble there Bub and point out you’re not that big a tourist town. Your own tourism website, visitgrantspass.org pretty much ends with jetboats and Wildlife Images. Furthermore, the internal audit commissioned by the city in 2013 found that empty storefronts, high crime rates, limited convention space, and problems with a wastewater treatment program were what was hindering tourism. Notice none of those are related to pot, which people have been growing outdoors in Grants Pass for years now.

“Neither Economic Development nor Tourism has a clearly articulated vision of what they are trying to achieve, and neither has an updated and comprehensive strategic plan detailing how they will get there,” the report concluded.

Well, if the devil’s bargain of tourism really is your goal, let me articulate a vision for you: tours of pot gardens, shuttles between farms the way there are currently shuttles between wineries, an artisan grower’s market, those empty storefronts full of gardening supply stores and tourist-focused marijuana shops, and restaurants that beef up their munchies menu. The state of Colorado has seen millions of tourist dollars flow into the state for marijuana, covering everything from “bud and breakfasts,” to legal pot giving citizens another reason to visit a place they had been meaning to anyhow. Legalization is an opportunity, not a burden.

The burden would be to force the police to regulate people’s personal gardens, for those regulations to jack up the price of medicine for the sick and to increase electricity usage for indoor lights (which is both costly and worse for the environment).

Here’s the straight dope: If we’re going to start regulating smells in Grants Pass, let’s start with the stench of bullshit coming from the City Council.

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