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Local Roundup for Oregon Cannabis August 17, 2015

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Continuing with our weekly effort to notify our membership on what is happening with bans and other regulatory action statewide, here is our local roundup:

Roseburg City Council votes 5 to 3 to allow recreational sales from medical marijuana dispensaries on Oct. 1.  Rallies held by the Umqua Cannabis Association prior to the meetings and a tour of a local dispensary, Cougar Cannabis, by two of the councilors appeared to sway the opinion of one critical vote from Councilwoman Victoria Hawks, who was largely opposed to the sales initially.  John Sajo, Executive Director of the Umpqua Cannabis Association, argued that the city officials should have a “compelling reason” to deviate from a state law that allows marijuana sales, and “[t]hey don’t have a compelling reason besides a fear of the unknown.”  He further argued that banning sales would only drive the much-needed revenue into other jurisdictions, denying Roseburg of the economic benefits.

The City of Dundee also will allow limited sales of marijuana to adults from medical dispensaries, after City Councilors agreed that the six-month window of sales will allow the city valuable insight into whether or not a permanent ban should be considered when the OLCC allows recreational sales to begin official in 2016.  Only one City Councilor, retired police officer Tim Weaver, showed support for banning recreational sales, citing concerns with public safety, “especially on the highway”.

Lincoln County Planning Commissioners are calling on the public to give their input on whether or not a marijuana ban is warranted before a meeting later this month where they will make a recommendation to the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.  Cities within Lincoln County have independent decisions regarding whether to ban marijuana licenses; Newport will hold their public hearing on August 17 to determine whether or not Newport will allow dispensaries to sell marijuana to adults on October 1.

The City of Elgin decided to opt out of all licensed activity, both medical and recreational, in their City Council meeting last week.

Deschutes County Commissioners are considering a potential ban on marijuana.  A hearing last week drew nearly 200 people, according to the Bend Bulletin.  Speakers included those opposed to the ordinance and those who supported it.  The County has not yet reached a decision but are expected to in the coming weeks.

The City Council in St. Helens reportedly changed positions in “a dramatic about-face” after adopting an ordinance to allow marijuana retailers within the city when they decided to table an ordinance that modifies the language in their business license code which requires compliance with federal law.  The change appeared to come from two councilors swayed by testimony from the St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss, according to Pamplin Media, who is described as “an ardent opponent of marijuana legalization” in the article.  The mayor was on vacation during the meeting, and Council President Doug Morten expects to have “a more definitive stance” on the issue by October after the mayor returns.

An Editorial from the Register Guard argues that local bans will allow localities to “ease” into legalization by allowing adults to grow and use marijuana there under state law, but simply slowing the appearance of retail outlets in communities who are leery of legalization.  Comparing the end of alcohol prohibition, they explain that selling alcohol by the drink wasn’t legal until 1954, and that the final “dry” city, Monmouth, finally legalizing alcohol sales “just a dozen years ago.”  They conclude that the local option “result will be wider and less grudging acceptance of legal marijuana.”  It’s worth noting that those opposed all seem to recognize that licensed activity will eventually be allowed in their communities, they just have further expectations of what needs to happen before they are there.  That is an important part of the conversation, as many localities – when seeing the industry firsthand – recognize that the industry is a lot further along than they realized and many of their concerns are satisfied or more tangibly solved.

The current list of those who have opted out through the OLCC, which is updated frequently, includes:

Those to be voted on the 2016 General Election Ballot with a moratorium in the meantime:

  • Douglas County
  • City of Brownsville
  • City of Sandy
  • City of Sutherlin
  • Junction City

Those which will not be voted on and become effective immediately:

  • City of Ontario
  • City of Vale
  • City of Nyssa
  • Island City
  • Umatilla County
  • Harney County
  • Malheur County

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on what is happening around the state.

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