Local Roundup for Oregon Cannabis August 10, 2015

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In an effort to collect information about local regulatory action against marijuana from around the state, here is our weekly local roundup on bans and other activity happening state-wide.

Umatilla County votes unanimously to ban marijuana licensees.  No one spoke in opposition to the ban at the hearing.  63% of Umatilla County voters opposed Measure 91 in 2014.

The City of Umatilla will be discussing marijuana sales at its August 18 meeting.  Previously, one person testified in favor of bans, while the remaining testimony was supportive of marijuana licensed activity.  Despite the public support for marijuana outlets in the city, the council appears to be favoring a ban and questioning why other nearby cities aren’t even considering marijuana sales.  If you are able to attend the Hearing on August 18, please do!  In the meantime, if you live in Umatilla, contact the city council and tell them your thoughts - they clearly need to be convinced to allow sales.

Deschutes County is considering a ban at their Wednesday August 12 meetings (both at 10am and 5:30 pm).  The intent of the hearings is to “gauge public sentiment for banning some or all commercial activity” associated with marijuana, according to the Bend Bulletin.  They cannot hear your opinion if you don’t tell them!  If you are a resident of Deschutes County, try to attend one or both hearings this Wednesday.  If you cannot attend, they are accepting written comments by email and you can watch the hearings live via webcast.

The City of Pendleton is weighing its options for a ban, ultimately waiting on the League of Oregon Cities to release their expected guidance later this month.  Pendleton has already banned the smell of marijuana, declaring it a “nuisance” if the smell leaves the property.  Watch for the scheduled meeting and if you are a resident in Pendleton, be sure to reach out to your Councilors to support marijuana licensed activity.

The City of Newport has scheduled a public hearing for August 17 to discuss marijuana sales.  City Councilor Ralph Busby said that the city has a “moral obligation” to support the 69% of Lincoln County voters who favored Measure 91.  City Manager Spencer Nebel provided a written report at the August 3 meeting supporting Newport banning licensed activity.  His report indicated that local regulation would be more time-consuming and challenging than simply banning the licensed activities.  Public turnout at the hearing is going to be key to demonstrating to the City of Newport that the voters.

The City of La Grande will be holding its second reading for a marijuana ban at its September meeting.

A Hillsboro dispensary is facing a zoning challenge from a nearby auto dealer, who claims that the dispensary is too close to a nearby park.  The auto dealer, Bruce Chevrolet, is appealing the city council decision to allow the dispensary, claiming that the city code requires that they reject the location if any portion of the building falls within the restricted buffer zone.  The planning director, Colin Cooper, found that 76% of the site and 68% of the existing building are outside the buffer zone and therefore allowed the use; the code in question requires that a “majority” of the site be outside the buffer, but doesn’t use a majority guideline for the existing building - only whether the building is inside or outside the buffer.  This story illustrates the ongoing opposition that marijuana businesses face to prevent them from operating even where they are not banned.

The League of Oregon Cities (LOC), the proponents for the local option to ban marijuana at the legislature, has put out a FAQ on “Local Regulation of Marijuana” and plans to release a more thorough guidance later this month.  The July 31 Bulletin from the LOC says, “the League is preparing regulatory guidance for its members, including a summary of the 2015 legislation, a description of cities’ regulatory options, and sample ordinance wording that will be released on August 14.” This insight will help cannabis activists around the state understand the guidance cities and counties are relying on to obstruct the implementation of marijuana licensed activity.  Many cities and counties are taking the guidance directly from the LOC and using it to enact their bans or other ordinances so watch for the release and be sure to read it and prepare  to fight back.

The OLCC has released a list of cities and counties that have provided them with a copy of their ordinance as required under HB 3400 as well as returned the official form required.  The proposed bans in Douglas County, the City of Brownsville and the City of Sandy will all be referred to voters in the November 2016 General Election and a moratorium on new licensees will be in place until then.  The City of Ontario, City of Vale and the City of Nyssa were able to enact their bans without referring them to voters and are effective immediately.  The list is updated frequently.


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