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Wood Village will see early recreational marijuana sales

Council defeats ordinance with split decision

Following the lead in neighboring cities, the Wood Village City Council discussed banning early-start sales for recreational marijuana at its Sept. 22 meeting. Because the council needed a majority vote and a tie-vote is registered as a defeat, the city's ordinance was rejected with a 2-2 vote.

This vote means come Oct. 1, any medical marijuana dispensary could sell recreationally, as allowed by Senate Bill 460. The bill provides for early recreational sales, but each city has the option to opt-out with a city ordinance.

Marijuana availability in Wood Village, however, was in flux. There is one shop in the city with a medical license through the Oregon Health Authority, N.W. Compassion Medical Center, 1970 N.E. 238th Dr. The ability to sell medical marijuana was finalized as a conditional use permit hearing in front of the Planning Commission on Monday, Sept. 28. The permit approval means the dispensary will be able to start selling medical marijuana, as well as recreational marijuana starting Thursday.

During the ordinance hearing, City Manager Bill Peterson told the council the city's staff was unsure of which direction to take.

“Your staff struggles with this,” Peterson said. “We cannot build consensus. We frankly couldn't come up with a firm recommendation for you this evening.”

That struggle existed within the council as well, as evidenced by the resulting split vote. The council's concern reached further than the simple issue before them, but to whom the decision would affect. Aaron Michelsen, owner of N.W. Compassion, has fought with the city over the requirement for a conditional use permit, opening his dispensary without the permit required by city ordinance. This has resulted in fines for Michelsen, although he did apply for the permit in September under a different business name, Another Day in Paradise Garden Supply. This defiance created doubt within some of the council as to Michelsen's abilities to operate his shop, given the potential increased demand for marijuana if recreational sales were permitted.

“When you are a pioneer in this business, you have to have every duck in the row. You can't act as if you're persecuted,” said Councilor Scott Harden. “I don't think it was any mystery you couldn't start selling product. That given, (Michelsen) is licensed by the OHA. That's why I'm saying he's already part of the network … as long as he complies and follows through with the conditional use permit, then I don't see (why we would opt out).”

Mayor Patricia Smith and Councilor Timothy Clark argued they would prefer to see the Oregon Liquor Control Commission sort out its rules before allowing recreational sales.

“The OLCC is using this provision in a way to distribute product through a proven establishment and people who have proven they can handle the product,” Clark said. “In our situation, we don't have that.”

Smith added that she was concerned by Michelsen's lack of experience in the field.

“He has not followed any rules,” she added. “I can't honestly be okay with this.”

Ultimately, after the ordinance was defeated, Harden moved that the Planning Commission consider both medical and recreational marijuana conditional use permits during the Sept. 28 hearing. This was approved.

“I will also say, if the conditional use permits fail at the Planning Commission, and at some point in time Mr. Michelsen continues to sell (marijuana) … I want you to be fined to the greatest extent of the law,” Harden said. “You have to play it perfect when you're a pioneer.”



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