Sumpter, Oregon is known for its mining history, mountain trails and Old West style. The town only has about 200 residents, but people are flocking to the tiny town for one specific reason: recreational marijuana. It’s one of just two locations in a 200-mile radius in Eastern Oregon.
Sumpter became a marijuana mecca accidentally, according to The News Review. Some of its residents say it became a mecca unwillingly. Some recreational marijuana buyers come from locations as far away as Boise.
Mayor Carey Clarke said, “I was pretty much staunchly against them coming in.”
City Leaders didn’t opt out of allowing recreational marijuana stores in enough time. They were amidst drama and recalls. They forgot to pass a ban.
Clarke also said, “I think we have the dispensaries just because we were in turmoil. And it just got swept under the rug.”
Several council members would have voted to ban recreational marijuana establishments. They were shocked when they realized the establishments were opening up shop.
Robert Armbruster, a council member, said, “We woke up one morning and said, ‘Oops, my goodness.’”
Clarke said, “We’ve tried to scramble to get this stopped.”
Councilors had an opportunity to adopt an ordinance banning recreational marijuana shops from being within 1,000-ft from parks, but did not. The entire tiny town of Sumpter falls within 1,000-ft of Sumpter Dredge state park, so all recreational marijuana shops would have been banned from the town.
OLCC rules prevented a Sumpter resident from getting a ballot measure to the town’s voters in May. The resident collected petition signatures to get the measure approved, but it isn’t a statewide election year, so the measure was not permitted.
Sumpter will have to wait until November 2018 to attempt to have a voter initiative available to put a ban in place.
An informal survey of the town’s resident showed that 75 people support recreational marijuana businesses and 68 oppose them.
Since the town felt like it was stuck with the businesses, it passed a measure to add a 3-percent local tax on marijuana sales.
Regarding the economic impact of the recreational marijuana businesses, Angela Borello, who owns a shop in town, said, “Business has picked up dramatically since they opened up. All day long, I get people in here for pop, candy bars. All day. Business helps businesses.”