No commercial marijuana production or processing plants will be operating in Imbler anytime in the foreseeable future.

Imbler voters made sure of this Tuesday when they approved Measure 31-9737 113 to 61 according to unofficial results from the Union County Clerk’s Office. Measure 31-9737 creates an ordinance prohibiting the sale, production and processing of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes within Imbler’s city limits.

The biggest impact of the measure will be on the production and processing of marijuana in Imbler, according to Imbler Mayor Mike McLean. Although Oregon voters legalized the sale of recreational marijuana by passing Measure 91 in 2014, the sale of it has remained illegal in Imbler because all land in the city limits is within 1,000 feet of its schools. State law prohibits recreational or medical marijuana from being sold within 1,000 feet of a school.

Still the door remained open for marijuana to be processed and grown in Imbler. This was evident in the spring of 2017 when a La Grande entrepreneur expressed interest in opening a medical marijuana processing plant in Imbler. The businessman decided against pursuing the project after determining it would be too expensive to open a plant in the town. The owner told the city council that none of the available commercially zoned land in Imbler where a medical marijuana processing plant could operate had an existing building that could house a processing plant. The businessman said it would not be financially feasible to pay for the construction of a new building.

Word of the businessman’s initial proposal created an uproar in Imbler and brought about 70 people to an April 2017 meeting at Imbler High School to discuss the issue. McLean said he believes the vast majority of the people at the meeting from Imbler opposed marijuana being allowed in their town.

See more in Wednesday's edition of The Observer.