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City considers medical marijuana licenses

The marijuana discussion has been ongoing for local governments in Oregon, especially considering the vast range of unknowns with the newly legalized drug.

As such, cities throughout Oregon have had numerous legal discussions concerning regulation of medical and recreational facilities and how far those regulations can go. One issue specifically remains unanswered by many: how to issue a business license if the city code requires all businesses comply with federal laws.

For some, the discussion has been how to modify that language to either allow or disallow marijuana facilities. Troutdale discussed that issue at its recent council meeting June 23.

“There is no hard and fast rule,” said City Attorney Ed Trompke. “Anyone who is in business in Oregon (providing marijuana) could find themselves under federal indictment just as they could anywhere else (marijuana) is legal.”

The proposed ordinance would amend the business license code to require a license for medical marijuana dispensaries. The current code does not issue a business license to any business which violates federal law.

The ordinance does not address recreational facilities, but Trompke said the city will take on that issue in the future, as recreational sales do not begin until January 2016.

Both for-profit and nonprofit dispensaries would be required to obtain a business license if the council chooses to amend the code with the proposed changes. Trompke added this is a way to provide information to police about where these facilities are in Troutdale.

“It’s to get information and a handle on how to deal with this issue on a going forward basis,” he said. “It just says this will give you information. It doesn’t make it illegal.”

This requirement may not affect those who qualify as growers under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. Trompke said the rule would only apply to those operating as a dispensary according to the legal state definition.

With the changes to the police department, the ordinance would also change the police chief’s oversight to the city manager. This would allow a law enforcement officer or the city manager to require additional information and review the business license application.

“Simply because of the arrangement that’s going to take effect with the Multnomah County merger, in order to keep that (ability) fully under city control, we’ll move that over to the city manager’s office and he can designate a law enforcement peace officer to (provide functions as designated),” Trompke said.

The presentation was the first reading of the ordinance, and as such the councilors did not discuss the issue in depth. The second reading and potential vote will take place at the July 14 council meeting.



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