By Mitch Rymeski
With the clock ticking down to the final moments before the last ballots are cast in the midterm election, residents of Friendly hope voters do the right thing for their community.
The measures, which include initiatives for medicinal marijuana dispensaries, a private casino, and increased mandatory minimums for some repeat crimes, are a mixed bag for the Friendly community.
“I am trying not to worry,” said Jane Edelstein on Measure 75, and initiative that would permit construction of a privately owned casino in Multnomah County, “I would prefer not to have a huge, commercial-run invasion siphoning Oregon money to big corporations.”
Big corporations weren’t the only concern, though. Other residents of Friendly were more concerned about gambling money being redirected from American Indian casinos in Oregon.
“I think casinos are a kind of poetic justice for the Native Americans,” said John Bergland, “I don’t want corporate control involved.”
Measure 75 would permit a Toronto based firm to construct “an entertainment center at the site of the former Oregon Kennel Club,” with a taxable casino that would potentially provide $74 million for schools statewide, 5000 jobs, and $650 billion in statewide business revenue.
The Register Guard agrees with the Friendly community, arguing that “Oregon already has large gambling enterprises — a billion-dollar state lottery and nine tribal casinos.”
Friendly neighbors had varying opinions on Measure 74, an initiative which would allow medicinal marijuana cardholders to acquire their medicine at newly built dispensaries throughout Oregon.
“I don’t think it’s a problem, I think it’s a fantastic thing,” said Kevin Flynn, an M74 advocate, “the system is deteriorating and it needs money.”
Some were hesitant due to the conflicts medicinal dispensaries have caused between dispensary owners and the Drug Enforcement Agency in California, where an initiative similar to Measure 74 was passed in 2003.
“The last thing you want is a bunch of feds kicking in the door and ruining local businesses because of national regulations,” said Shaun Elwell, a pro-hemp, medicinal marijuana advocate, “we don’t want Oregon to end up like California.”
Others were optimistic about Measure 74, but unsure about the effect it would have on the neighborhood.
“With wishful thinking, the marijuana measure will pass,” said Candy Knox, “but people in Friendly who are growing pot will not be happy.”
M74 advocates argue that a government backed network of dispensaries will lower crime associated with drug sales and create new jobs and up to $20 million in annual revenue for the state.
Whatever the outcome, residents aren’t too worried about any direct effects on the Friendly neighborhood specifically.
“I don’t think [the ballot measures] will affect friendly that much,” said Knox.