By Scott Olson
As we head into fall and the weather starts to cool, it seems like the issue of marijuana will continue to be a hot topic for at least the next couple months.
The petition to lift the ban on the sale of marijuana will go before city of Creswell residents in November.
The issue has been controversial, to say the least.
Several people have asked my employees and I where The Chronicle stands on this issue, and we simple state that the newspaper has decided not to take an editorial stance on the issue.
Some feel this is copout. But this is the way I’ve always addressed issues brought before public vote. After all, who am I to tell people how to vote? The Chronicle has dedicated whatever space is necessary to help inform the readers on both sides of the issue. Our editorial page has had many contributors on both sides of the issue, making valid, well thought-out arguments for their side of the issue.
I find it interesting the tactics that both sides have taken in trying to bring awareness to the issue.
One Gro, headed by co-founder Mike Arnold and Chief Executive Officer Dan Isaacson, made headlines in July when they announced that they had come up with an initiative petition to repeal the ban on marijuana dispensaries in Creswell, claiming they could raise thousands of dollars to invest in public safety and parks in Creswell.
Many of those claims were disputed by the City of Creswell; city staff and council have spent many hours reviewing public safety and the topic of marijuana, back before it was actually legalized by voters.
The issue that some say had turned them off to One Gro was their tactics. Several people who have lived here most of their lives didn’t like the criticisms that One Gro made about Creswell, and especially the local business atmosphere. Some have invested their entire lives to being local business owners and representatives of the community. To have a new business come to town and tell everyone how things could be made better if they were allowed to sell their products locally didn’t sit well with many.
To say One Gro didn’t get off on the right foot with the town leaders is an understatement.
I attended One Gro’s first question-and-answer session back on July 27. I found the representatives of One Gro to be very welcoming and forthcoming with their views on what they can do for Creswell, but as a newspaper person I always look at things with a certain amount of skepticism.
Then there’s the side of the populace that is dead set against having a marijuana dispensary in Creswell. These people have been active on social media sites like the Creswell Neighborhood Watch page (and I really don’t understand what Neighborhood Watch has to do with a drug that has been legalized). One would think there are more informative issues relating to public safety that would be posted on this page, but that’s the administrator’s choice, I guess.
The issue I have with Creswell Neighborhood Watch was their choice to post a Letter to the Editor, which appeared in another newspaper and was also sent to the Creswell City Council for inclusion in their packet a while back.
In the letter, the writer claimed that The Chronicle was biased in their reporting of a story that appeared on July 13. That story, written by Erin Tierney, was a business story on NakD Bean, located at 285 E. Oregon Ave. While conducting her interview, Erin found out that the owners were petitioning to bring a ballot measure to the voters in November, which allow recreational marijuana to be sold in Creswell.
The story consisted of informational material, as it was meant to be a Business Beat story that The Chronicle has done many other businesses in the past. But to the letter writer, this was biased news, which I totally debunk.
When I addressed this on the “thread” of comments on the Creswell Neighborhood Watch page, one person accused me of being “butt hurt” about the accusation. I’ve invested my entire career to community journalism, so I take accusations of bias seriously. If anyone ever feels there is any kind of bias associated with my newspaper I expect and invite the person to call me up or come down to my office and talk about the issue. Instead, this writer decided throw out a false accusation.
Another issue caught my ire with those not in favor of marijuana dispensaries in Creswell a few weeks ago. Erin and I received notification that a group opposed to marijuana would be holding a meeting. Erin decided to attend the meeting, but as soon as she told those organizing the meeting that she represented The Chronicle, she was all but asked to not partake in the meeting.
This got me thinking, what kind of “secret society” do we have here in Creswell? To disinvite the press that is trying to address both sides of a controversial issue seems very foolish to me.
So, as you can see, there seems to be a tug-of-war of words and power going on in Creswell. What has happened to our sleepy-eyed small town?
If one good thing has come out of this issue, I hope there’s a better understanding of acceptance for the media and what we have to offer. Many towns would love to have a small-town newspaper to provide local news that is happening in their community. To judge us without taking the opportunity to meet and get to know us is wrong.
Several years ago, while covering an event at another newspaper I owned, a person looked at me and said, “You’re not like those other newspaper guys.” No, I’m not. I care about people, their views and the community.
I feel the citizens of Creswell will make their decision in November as to what they feel is best for their community as well.