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City Council just says 'no' to marijuana dispensaries

The Estacada City Council has banned the operation of any medical marijuana facility within city limits.

In March, medical marijuana dispensaries became legal in Oregon as a result of legislation adopted in 2013.

However, the 2013 law left many cities confused as to how they would regulate the dispensaries.

Effective March 19, the law allows city governments to adopt ordinances that impose reasonable regulations on the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Because of confusion with the law, Oregon lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1531, which allows cities to adopt a one-year moratorium.

The moratoriums must be enacted by May 1 and will expire by May 1, 2015.

The Estacada City Council voted to seize the opportunity during the council meeting on Monday, April 14.

This was not the first time the issue had come before the Estacada City Council.

Sandy/Estacada Police Chief Kim Yamashita spoke at the Feb. 24 council meeting in what she described as an effort to educate the council in anticipation of coming legislation on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Yamashita used Kevin Sabet’s Presentation: Seven Myths PowerPoint from the Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) website (learnaboutsam.com/sam-resources/powerpoint-presentations).

The presentation warns of teens’ susceptibility to marijuana addiction and the kid-friendly packaging of some marijuana products.

The presentation also linked the push for the legalization of marijuana to the tobacco industry, and questioned the validity of smoked or inhaled marijuana as medicine, among other things.

Shortly after the meeting, Drug-free Estacada Families & Youth (DEFY) Director Susie Tracy sent out a widely distributed email urging the council to restrict medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.

“Allow me to extend my gratitude to the Sandy Police Department and to Chief Yamashita in addressing the City Council this past Monday and for bringing attention to the need for an ordinance in Estacada that will restrict if not ban medical marijuana outlets in our community,” Tracy wrote.

At the meeting on April 14, Eric Palmer, a representative of the law office of Attorney Amy Margolis, addressed the council.

Margolis represents Kevin Pflegl who had wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary on Broadway Street in downtown Estacada.

Pflegl said later that he’d been working with the landlord since February and handed in an application to the city last month.

“Medical marijuana dispensaries are the safest way to regulate the industry,” Palmer told the council.

Palmer warned that without legal access to medical marijuana, patients in need of the drug would be forced to acquire it through a black market.

Palmer also spoke of the strict regulations in place for legal medical marijuana.

City Manager Bill Elliott noted that many cities are adopting this moratorium.

He said that he didn’t have any pros or cons on the issue, it was the council’s decision.

“You have to understand that marijuana is going to be on the bill, for legalization here, real soon and chances are it will pass,” said Councilor Sean Drinkwine. “And if it were to pass all this seems null and void.”

He added that it didn’t seem right to him to deny patients access to medical marijuana.

“My immediate response is ‘not in my backyard,’” said Councilor Edward Smith.

Councilor Emil Hnidey discussed the tension between personal liberty and government bodies regulating their communities.

Hnidey urged the council to consider what they want the Estacada community to look like.

Councilors Michele Conditt, Smith, Hnidey and Rob Gaskill voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within the city of Estacada.

Drinkwine voted against the moratorium.

Mayor Brent Dodrill and Councilor Curt Steininger were not present.

The moratorium is effective immediately and will remain in place until May 1, 2015, unless rescinded sooner.

Other cities

Numerous other Oregon cities such as Sandy and Wood Village also have voted for one-year moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Sandy Mayor Bill King said that the city already has an “outright prohibition” of medical marijuana dispensaries, but voted in the moratorium to comply with Senate Bill 1531.

The Damascus City Council has held the first reading of a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, with the second reading and public comment scheduled for April 21.

The Gresham City Council on a 6-0 vote approved the first reading of its moratorium ordinance on April 8. The second reading is planned on April 15.

Fairview will vote Wednesday, April 16, on its ordinance to impose the moratorium. Mayor Mike Weatherby said he doesn’t expect opposition from the council.

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is moving forward to adopt an ordinance to set a moratorium at least until May 1, 2015, on the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

During the first public hearing April 3, County Chairman John Ludlow clarified that the proposed ordinance would only affect facilities in unincorporated Clackamas County, and Commissioner Paul Savas made sure that current medical marijuana facilities and cardholders wouldn’t be affected.

The second hearing will be held during the Board of Commissioners Business Meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 24, in the Public Services Building, 2051 Kaen Road, Oregon City.



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