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Newport says Yes to Medical Marijuana Dispensaries selling recreational marijuana – but can’t make up their mind yet on fluoridation of drinking water

Medical Marijuana Dispensary - some of which will be selling recreational marijuana beginning October 1st, which includes those in Newport. Oregonian photo

Medical Marijuana Dispensary – some of which will be selling recreational marijuana beginning October 1st, which includes those in Newport.
Oregonian photo

In a complete change of direction from a few weeks ago, the Newport City Council, on a 6 to 1 vote, approved medical marijuana dispensaries selling recreational marijuana beginning October 1st.

At their last meeting, the council was hesitant to say yes to the move because the Oregon Health Authority had issued only tentative rules which apparently didn’t give the councilors much comfort. But after delving into those rules controlling recreational marijuana sales, they were more inclined to heed the desires expressed by an audience Tuesday night that wanted them to say yes to those sales. And councilors did – 6 to 1 – with Councilor Mark Saelens explaining that he believes that had Oregonians back in the late 90s known that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to legalizing recreational marijuana, they might have not voted yes for the medical part of it.

So recreational marijuana goes on sale at medical marijuana dispensaries in Newport after they each get squared away with the Oregon Health Authority rules on its sale. Supporters say it will offer marijuana customers a legal way to buy the plant without having to go to the black market.

Medical marijuana dispensary sale of recreational marijuana is scheduled to remain in effect until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission adopts its own rules for time, place and manner of those sales. That could take a number of months – perhaps taking until next fall for those rules to take effect. Until that happens, medical marijuana dispensaries will be the go-to place for 1/4 ounce of marijuana per day, also seeds to grow their own and up to 4 flowering plants. Four plants is all a person can have. And of course, to buy the weed you have to be 21.

One supporter of the move said he was a combat vet and came home badly damaged by post traumatic stress disorder – and it nearly cost him his marriage and a loving relationship with his daughter. But since using marijuana, his macho, “gotta-control-everybody” impulses have all subsided and his life is moving forward in a rich and fulfilling way.

Others said that recreation marijuana is the only marijuana some people will buy because they don’t want friends or relatives knowing that they suffer from a mental, emotional or personality disorder. Most are war vets, they say, with PTSD issues.

Although the state has authorized the sale of recreational marijuana starting October 1st, a 20% tax on it won’t take effect until after the first of the year. Three percent of that tax will be subvented back to each city or county for the cost of law enforcement – enforcing the rules regulating recreation marijuana. Those cities or counties that don’t approve recreational marijuana sales will receive no share of those taxes.

Better without fluoride or with it?  50 year debate keeps going.

Better without fluoride or with it? 50 year debate keeps going.

A strong protest from those who do not want Newport to resume putting minute amounts of fluoride in city drinking water, seemed to be getting their way Tuesday night.

When the city built its new water treatment plant out Big Creek Road, the project ran a bit over budget so the city decided not to inject fluoride in to the final produce until “later.” Well, later came sooner than some thought. The debate over the past few months is whether the city ought to spend a third of a million dollars to add fluoride to the town’s tap water.

Those in favor included regular county and state medical officials who lauded fluoride’s effectiveness at preventing tooth decay. Others pointed to the fact that Europe largely doesn’t put fluoride in their water because they contend it does little to nothing to prevent tooth decay. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently released a statement on fluoride saying that although the chemical, which occurs naturally in the environment, does reduce tooth decay, it’s effectiveness might be better understood as “supporting healthy teeth.” The CDC said that using fluoride toothpaste and gels and by eating foods with fluoride naturally in them, are also legitimate ways to get fluoride into the systems of young girls and boys.

Other opponents contended that fluoride causes a wide array of medical problems, including brain damage, cancer and reductions in intelligence IQ scores, among other things.

The council thanked everyone for their input and set a decision on the matter for October 19th during which they will take no more public testimony. But they are accepting written comments from citizens addressed to the city council until the 19th.

New Newport Pool Swimming by the seat of their trunks...

New Newport Pool
Swimming by the seat of their trunks…

And the Newport City Council got another update on the status of the town’s new municipal pool, passed by the voters some time ago. City voters passed the issue at the polls during the grip of a tough recession, but issued bids for the project as the economy began to improve. And of course, the price for construction, materials and all the rest rose with the economy. So today, the city’s about a quarter million to a half million dollars under what they expected to spend on it.

But City Manager Spencer Nebel told the council that city hall can shift some funds around to get the project going and then, through creative changes in the way the pool is built, save enough money, and then borrow the rest to ensure what was promised to the voters is included in the project. The lazy river element was not promised. But the spa pool was.

City Public Works Director Tim Gross said that by watching costs like a hawk and intelligently using what’s called “value engineering,” he’s optimistic they can deliver what was promised. However, he’s not so sure they’ll get all the parking squeezed in. But he says they’re working on that part of it too.

City Manager Spencer Nebel says the city has to award the bid to one of five competing contractors by September 21st. Whoever gets the bid will have Gross and other city officials looking over their shoulder to save money where they can and engineer things as smartly as they can. Gross said that such expensive projects notoriously have savings in unexpected areas which often frees up additional funds for further project enhancements. Nebel said the city might even be able to borrow some money from the Agate Beach landfill reclamation project which is costing quite a bit less than was projected.

In short, it’s a moving target. But Gross seemed confident that with close monitoring and constructive change orders the community will get the aquatic center they voted for.

Again, the estimated cost of the facility was developed during the recession when construction costs were a lot lower than they are today.

But the council believes that if anyone can squeeze blood out of a set of plans, it’s Tim Gross.

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