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Wood Village OKs moratorium on marijuana dispensaries

Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and Damascus considering


Troutdale City Council introduced an ordinance Tuesday that if approved, would allow the city to adopt a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

In other words, the city is taking action to delay the opening of dispensaries in the city for one year, through May 1, 2015.

Troutdale’s interim attorney, Ed Trompke, said most cities are adopting this ordinance or something similar to it.

The city of Wood Village already has adopted the moratorium, and the cities of Gresham, Fairview and Damascus are in the final stages of taking similar action.

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.

“The big question, since that bill, was whether further legislation is allowed or whether it is preempted by the statute,” Trompke said.

Trompke said reasonable regulation is defined to include reasonable hours, reasonable places and reasonable manner of regulation of dispensing medical marijuana.

He said the bill was modified many times, which would have allowed or prohibited preemption by cities, but the final version doesn’t say anything about preemption.

Many cities in East County, including Troutdale, have operated under the premise that to approve a business license, the business must comply with federal law.

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

The moratoriums must be enacted by May 1.

If approved, Trompke said it would give Troutdale and other cities about a year to figure out what kind of regulations the cities will impose on dispensaries.

During that time, setting up a business to distribute medical marijuana would not be allowed in Troutdale or any other city that approves the moratorium.

Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust said the moratorium does not affect people who hold medical marijuana cards.

“I know people in Troutale have cards and are growing in their homes to meet their needs,” he said.

He estimates there are about 17 medical marijuana growers in Troutdale.

Daoust said the marijuana dispensary issue is a “complex and divisive topic.”

“But I think we need this moratorium just to give us time,” he said.

Councilor Rich Allen said he supported having more time to institute regulations as well.

Before arriving at regulatory decisions, he wants to know how medical marijuana dispensaries may, if at all, affect traffic accidents or crime.

He also said, “I don’t know what future legislation is going to be, so I prefer time as well.”

The council will hear a second reading of the ordinance at the next Troutdale City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 22.

DAMASCUS

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 first reading passed 5-2, with opposition from councilors Randy Shannon and Andrew Jackman.

Shannon said state laws governing the siting of dispensaries are sufficient and that Mayor Steve Spinnett was worried that the town would be “inundated with dispensaries,” he said.

“That’s based on some hypothetical fear,” Shannon said, “and to take people’s property rights away that the state Legislature has given.”

Councilor Jackman also questioned the moratorium.

“I know these dispensaries are already heavily regulated by the state,” he said. “What would we do differently?”

If Damascus voters approve one of the three comprehensive development plans on the May ballot, that plan will be used in determining development code for dispensaries, said Senior Planner Erika Palmer. But if not, then the Clackamas County comprehensive plan will be referenced.

WOOD VILLAGE

On Tuesday, April 8, the city of Wood Village adopted its one-year moratorium.

However, the council plans to play it by ear before jumping to change its city codes as there is the potential for legislative changes in the near future.

“Our City Council does not feel strongly about prohibiting entirely medical marijuana dispensaries,”said Wood Village City Administrator Bill Peterson. “In fact they are very split on that issue.”

Peterson said his concern is with the unsettled nature of the existing law: the relationship between the federal law, state law and local law and how that functions.

Depending on whether initiatives are placed on the November ballot or during the January legislative session, Peterson said, “It seems nonsensical to do all the work, if everything is essentially going to change in a matter of months.”

He said the council thought it would be best to adopt a moratorium.

While the moratorium expires May 1, 2015, Peterson said the council may be ready to lift the ban before that.

“As things settle statewide, our council is going to direct staff to move quickly to allow these (dispensaries) in our community,” he said.

GRESHAM

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.

The moratorium would take effect immediately after the second reading of the ordinance and will be in effect until May 1, 2015.

“The council had a good discussion and indicated it plans to spend the next year talking to the public about the issue and gathering input for a longer-term approach,” said Robin Franzen Parker, the city’s public affairs director.

FAIRVIEW

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 City Council recently met in executive session to discuss the possible legal risks of a moratorium.

Weatherby said the feeling of the council is that medical marijuana may be helpful for those who need it, but the city is less interested in a sprawl of dispensaries.

Fairview amended language to its city code in March so that all licensed businesses are required to be in compliance with the Federal Controlled Substance Act.

Weatherby emphasized the urgency of the city adopting the ordinance before May 1.

“We see this as an added set of armor,” the mayor said.

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