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Local group pushing for recreational marijuana in Klamath Falls

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Recreational marijuana – it’s legal to use in Oregon, but illegal to sell within Klamath County lines.

Edward Medina is trying to change that. He’s leading an initiative called Klamath Strong, which aims to end the ban within city limits in hopes of flipping the struggling economy.

"For an economy that is suffering and declining, we need as many jobs as we can produce," said Medina.

He sees a unique opportunity for Klamath.

"This is, as far as I know, the only industry that is wanting to come to Klamath County, begging to come and be taxed, and to provide the jobs and the revenue that this area desperately needs," Medina said.

To Medina, marijuana may be the economy’s only hope. And the people are the only way of enacting change in the city.

City Manager Nathan Cherpeski says that while the city has made decisions on the matter in the past, now it’s up to the public.

"When they came and the council voted not to allow recreational marijuana and they were upset, they said - if you want to change it, ask the voters. This is what we think our constituents want, but certainly the voters can say differently," Cherpeski said.

To get the measure on the ballot, Medina will need to 1,784 signatures by July 15th. He worries about residents' options if he doesn’t hit that mark.

"They will either have to drive to Jackson County or Deschutes County - the closest areas, so 70+ miles the closet [recreational] store," Medina said. "Or, they are left to purchase from the illegal market - unlicensed sellers - who are flourishing in the area as a result of not having recreational businesses."

As of now, he’s halfway to his goal.

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