Max Denning

After a citizen-led ballot initiative, residents of the City of Joseph will vote on whether or not to overturn the ban of the sale of recreational marijuana in November.

Sean Flanagan, owner of The Peace Pipe, which sells smoking paraphernalia in Joseph, and his partner, Michelle Kramer, collected 187 signatures, 104 of which were processed and accepted by Wallowa County. Only 87 signatures — which constitutes 10 percent of the registered voters in the City of Joseph — were needed to put the citizen initiative on the ballot.

Kramer said there are two main reasons she supports legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana: the benefits for medical consumers and the potential tax revenue.

There are a number of medical marijuana patients in Wallowa County who have to travel to either Pendleton or La Grande to purchase marijuana, as Wallowa County doesn’t have a medical marijuana dispensary, she said. Her mother had cancer and used medical marijuana to help ease her pain.

“I’m grateful to marijuana for the benefits of healing,” Kramer said. “It helps take away the pain, it helps give people energy, it helps people have a better perspective.”

Kramer also said Joseph has a number of veterans who use medical marijuana for PTSD and a large elderly population that could use it for pain management.

She said it can be difficult for people in chronic pain to travel from Wallowa County to Pendleton or La Grande.

In addition to the medical benefits of marijuana, she sees a high volume of out-of-town visitors come to The Peace Pipe looking for recreational marijuana.

“Customers have come into the store and ask ‘Is this a dispensary? Are you ever going to have a dispensary?’ We’d love to have a dispensary,” Kramer said. “The income potential is obviously very large.”

See more in Monday's edition of The Observer.