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Citizen's View: City should treat marijuana like alcohol and avoid overregulation

Many Lake Oswego citizens and City Council members should temper their “boogieman” attitude toward marijuana with facts and honestly evaluate it within our very well accepted attitudes and extensive commercial support for alcohol.

It’s time to be the adults in the room. Both pot and alcohol are legal and can be blamed for behaviors that are personally offensive to some individuals, but they must be considered equal legally and commercially. One can successfully argue that alcohol is a FAR more dangerous and a proven detriment to family, kids and society.

In reading some comments (“City Council debates restrictions on pot sales,” Feb. 25), you would think children are corrupted and doomed to purgatory for just walking on the same street as a pot store. But what does the state-mandated 1,000-foot “buffer zone” near grade schools accomplish?

The discussion evokes increased traffic and possibly distracted, under-the-influence drivers. But 99 percent of kids walking near a school do so just twice a day, for about half an hour each day, in early morning and mid-afternoon. That is when these roads are already packed with rushing, distracted, consumed drivers — parents.

Many schools are already on busy roads, such as Lake Grove Elementary School. And yet not so long ago, the City approved a Starbucks and a huge veterinary hospital next door, which both draw rushed, distracted, consumed drivers all day and night! Do you think a pot store will draw that amount of traffic? Hardly, since most of them don’t even open until about 10-11 a.m. And nothing is consumed on pot-store premises. We also have convenience stores and grocery stores close by, all of which sell alcohol. Traffic is very busy there at all times. I will bet many people even take children there. Unfortunately, we have impaired drivers everywhere who are under the influence of prescribed and illegally obtained drugs, although those have become lesser problems compared to talking, texting and emailing.

It’s likely that a large percentage of Lake Oswego’s adults, their children and likely their grandchildren do now or have already smoked pot. Our wealthy community is certainly the most able to afford today’s pot prices and residents here are already purchasing plenty of pot legally and illegally. They will continue to do so. It’s hyperbole to suggest downtown Lake Oswego will “develop” around a pot store or two (or three). So what about the idea that we are only 11.3 miles away from Portland, where pot is allowed to be sold? Wouldn’t that still put under-the-influence drivers on our roads? Isn’t that one of the problems you’re concerned about?

It is nice to drive over to A Avenue or State Street or (fill in the blank) Street to purchase some good wine, beer or other liquor instead of having to drive to downtown Portland, right? Think about the successful, annual Wine Walk around downtown Lake Oswego, with people drinking and carrying glasses and then driving home. Traffic accidents from overconsumption of alcohol are not confined to the 1,000 feet around bars and restaurants.

Everyone is familiar with the loud, careless bravado and aggressiveness that alcohol causes, compared to the happy, cautious, risk-averse demeanor of a pot buzz. If you are not informed, you should be. It is time to remove pot from your tsk-tsk-snicker pariah list and refrain from unnecessary overregulation. Marijuana hasn’t and won’t ruin Lake Oswego.

Jerry Taylor is a resident of Lake Oswego.