Klamath Tribes, Chiloquin consider cannabis options

Chiloquin, Ore. – The Klamath Tribes are exploring a possible future in the cannabis industry, and the Mayor of Chiloquin is working to open his own dispensary.

Chairman Don Gentry says the cannabis question went before Klamath Tribal members in June.  “Do our members want to support exploring opportunities in the cannabis industry?  We went out for referendum, and the vote was yes, we should do that.”

The referendum passed with 582 votes in favor, and 431 votes against.

While marijuana could generate revenue for the Tribe, it could also jeopardize federal funding.

“There are a lot of pros and cons about this,” said Chairman Gentry. “There’s certainly a lot of gray area, given that it’s illegal, federally.”

Gentry says the issue extends beyond money. “We are concerned about the potential impacts on our Tribal member health, and particularly our youth.”

Chiloquin Mayor Mark Cobb has already gotten a business license from the city for a marijuana dispensary. “We’re looking to move in that direction – recreational and medical, hopefully.”

If allowed in Chiloquin, the recreational dispensary would be the first in Klamath County.

“The city of Chiloquin has been looking into this for about 3 years,” said Mayor Cobb. “At one point, there was a moratorium against marijuana – they lifted that moratorium a couple years ago.”

Cobb says he believes the taxes would provide an economic boost for Chiloquin.  “We’re going to dedicate that to safety of Chiloquin, which would be for law enforcement, or surveillance cameras, or that sort of thing.”

For now, the Klamath Tribes are taking a cautious approach.

“We don’t have any deadlines,” added Chairman Gentry.

While Mayor Cobb hopes he’ll soon be able to open his dispensary, he said, “I just think that this is going to be a wonderful thing for Chiloquin.”

A draft ordinance to set city policy on marijuana is scheduled to go before the Chiloquin City Council next week.

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle's job history is quite colorful. 

He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.

"The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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