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Council may extend pot dispensary ban

City staff told to draft an ordinance that would likely lead to a ballot measure in November 2016


The Lake Oswego City Council asked City Attorney David Powell on Tuesday to draft an ordinance that would extend the city’s ban on marijuana dispensaries and eventually be referred to voters in the November 2016 general election.

Possession of recreational marijuana became legal statewide July 1, although it has remained illegal to sell the drug for recreational uses. That will change on Oct. 1, though, thanks to an “early sales” law enacted by the 2015 Legislature that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell limited amounts of recreational cannabis while the state gets its recreational dispensary program up and running.

Although voters in Lake Oswego approved Measure 91, the city opted for a state-sanctioned moratorium that ended in May 2015 and then used its home rule authority to extend that ban to May 1, 2016. The majority of the council is opposed to retail marijuana facilities of any kind within the city.

House Bill 3400 allows the city to ban such businesses, but because Lake Oswego voters largely supported Measure 91, this can only be done if the ban is referred to voters in the November 2016 general election.

Banning facilities outright could make the city vulnerable to lawsuits; it would also make the city ineligible for state marijuana tax revenues.

“Other cities are dealing with this, but it’s not going to make your decision easier,” City Manager Scott Lazenby told councilors. “Other councils are deciding everything from on the one end, referring a full ban to voters, to the other end, letting the (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) regulate time, place and manner and otherwise treating them as businesses under current regulations. Other councils have a full range of responses.”

The council ultimately asked Powell to draft a resolution that could be referred to voters in November 2016, as well as an ordinance banning “early sales” of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries. The council will consider both measures at a future session.

Not all councilors supported the move, though.

“The voters of Oregon and the voters of Lake Oswego already did chime in on this,” Councilor Jon Gustafson said, “and they want this to be legal. So in my opinion, we’re not respecting the will of the voters by putting obstacles in front of access to medical treatments, in particular, and recreational, if that’s what the voters decided.

“It strikes me as a little ironic,” he added, “that one of our council goals was to be business-friendly, and about the only thing I think we’ve tackled is bans on businesses.”

Also on Tuesday:

n Councilors unanimously approved collective bargaining agreements with unions representing the city’s firefighters and municipal employees. Firefighters’ three-year contract calls for cost-of-living increases of 2.5 percent effective July 1, 2014; 2.4 percent effective July 1, 2015; and an increase on July 1, 2016, of between 2 percent and 4 percent, based on the CPI-U Portland Cost of Living Index. Some firefighters will see an increase in their share of health care costs. Municipal employees will get a 2.5-percent pay increase effective July 1, 2015, and increases in 2016 and 2017 of between 2 percent and 4 percent, based on the same Portland index; they will continue to pay 9 percent toward monthly health insurance premiums.

n Councilors unanimously authorized City Manager Scott Lazenby to lease space in Tualatin for a police training and evidence storage facility. City officials said they looked for suitable warehouse space in Lake Oswego but found nothing available; the 5,000-square-foot space they did find is located on Southwest Durham Road, just behind the Bridgeport Village shopping center. Initial monthly rent, including a prorated portion of property taxes and site operating expenses, is $4,117.21, with a built-in cost increase of 3 percent per year. Utility costs are expected to be less than $200 monthly. Move-in costs are estimated at less than $17,000.

n Citizens Budget Committee Chairman Charles Collins and Vice Chairman Dave Berg were reappointed to three-year terms that will run through Aug. 31, 2018. Steve Dodds and Allen Schatz were appointed as alternates for terms that expire on Aug. 31, 2016; they will serve only if a vacancy occurs on the committee.

Contact Saundra Sorenson at 503-636-1281 ext. 107 or ssorenson@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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