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Clackamas County approves marijuana ban

The proposed moratorium for medical pot dispensaries in unincorporated Clackamas County was approved Thursday afternoon.

Clackamas County commissioners set the ban until May 1, 2015, on the operation of medical marijuana facilities, effective immediately. They unanimously approved the ordinance after hearing from about 30 people who signed up to speak in front of board during a hearing Thursday.

Commissioners said passage of a moratorium now will allow the county to make an informed decision on potential future regulations.

“I believe this moratorium will provide Clackamas County sufficient time to answer the questions of land use, code violations, community impacts and legal regulations,” said Commissioner Martha Schrader in a written statement. Schrader was unable to attend because she was representing the county in a meeting with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and representatives from a large corporation seeking to invest in the region.

“I’m going to support a moratorium, but I am going to continue in my efforts to put in safeguards for youth. We’re going to move forward in a very thoughtful manner,” said Commissioner Tootie Smith.

According to county records obtained by KOIN 6 News, the moratorium on medical marijuana facilities allows the county time to monitor and plan for potential time, place and manner restrictions.

However, during public testimony Thursday, Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley said fellow City Commission members have banned medical marijuana dispensaries using a land-use ordinance. Neeley encouraged the county to enact the moratorium in its rural, unincorporated area. The mayor also said that he was willing to “end up in court” to prevent any medical marijuana dispensary from opening up in Oregon City after their one-year moratorium expires in May 2015.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Horner recommended commissioners take a wait-and-see approach and watch how Washington and Colorado handle public legalization of marijuana.

“I think the correct approach to this is one of caution and one of ‘stop and look and see what is going on in two other states,’” Horner said.

Several medical marijuana patients attended Thursday’s hearing to voice their opposition to a moratorium.

“I want you to understand how important it is for those of us who are patients to have a place… to pick up our prescriptions, which have tested. It is clean, it is safe. You have to show ID to go in there,” said Constance Kimes, a medical marijauna patient herself.

"I don’t think any of us up here have any doubt that (medical) marijuana does some good for some people,” said County Chairman John Ludlow. “We will not make a decision on time, place and manner in a vacuum.”

“I want to look deeper into the federal prescription issue,” said Commissioner Paul Savas. “But we can’t do this after the fact — we have to take advantage of this opportunity from the state to approve a moratorium.”

The Oregon Health Authority has approved three licensed dispensaries in Clackamas County, but the location of those facilities is confidential unless the owner/operator allows OHA to release the information.

“It’s important that the county and Sheriff’s Office have a role in whether a facility deserves a license, and (approving a moratorium) will give us time to work on that,” said Commissioner Jim Bernard.



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