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Council moves toward Dec. 31 pot dispensary ban


Two councilors, high school student support longer moratorium

Beaverton-area residents looking to acquire medical marijuana close to home would be advised to find sources outside city limits, at least until early next year.

With a divided City Council looking to extend its current six-month moratorium on the facilities until Dec. 31, it’s not likely those seeking licenses to establish dispensaries would be in business before winter 2015.

Following a public hearing on the issue at its Tuesday night meeting, the council voted 3-2 in support of extending the dispensary moratorium from September to Dec. 31. The date is four months shorter than a recently enacted state law — permitting municipalities to ban dispensaries until May 1, 2015 — allows.

Councilors Mark Fagin, Cate Arnold and Marc San Soucie voted for the Dec. 31-based ordinance, while Councilors Betty Bode and Ian King, who favored extending the moratorium to May 2015, rejected the proposal.

The longer time period, Bode and King argued, would allow more flexibility for city staff, the Planning Commission and other entities to study and address questions regarding the facilities.

Fagin and Arnold, meanwhile, indicated from now through December provided plenty of time for the city to get its ducks in a row.

“Another alternative would be to actually spend the staff time, get the work done and meet the December date at the latest, if not earlier,” Arnold countered. “I have faith in our planning staff that they know what they’re talking about.”

Seven citizens, ranging from businesspeople looking to start up their own dispensaries to a concerned high school student, testified during the public hearing.

Questioning the practice of going in a direction just because other states — such as Colorado and Washington, where recreational pot was legalized — are, local student Garrison Lau expressed disappointment the council would favor Oregon law over a federal pot prohibition.

“If people like marijuana so much, they should get the FDA to approve it,” he said. “I’m pretty disappointed in you guys that you would go with this. I’m a high school student. I’ve heard my whole life that drugs were wrong ... This is just not what I expected of you as leaders.”

Anthony Johnson, executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association, stressed his organization simply wants to move medical marijuana from a black-market operation to a regulated, highly-monitored business. “A lengthy moratorium will only hurt the most vulnerable patients — the poorest and the sickest among us.”

The council will vote on the revised ordinance at its April 22 meeting.