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Scappoose weighs new vote to ban pot businesses


Councilors to consider 2016 ballot initiative that would prohibit marijuana businesses and grow sites in city limits

Scappoose voters could be asked to vote on whether to ban marijuana businesses in city limits.

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Scappoose city councilors discuss the pros and cons of allowing marijuana businesses in city limits during a workshop earlier this year. The city is slated to vote on whether to initiate a ballot measure to ban all future marijuana businesses in 2016.

The Scappoose City Council is slated to vote on whether to put an initiative on the November 2016 ballot to ban any new marijuana dispensaries, processing sites and wholesalers and producers.

Councilors were scheduled to vote on the matter Dec. 21, but the meeting was rescheduled until Jan. 4.

In August, Scappoose became the first city in Columbia County to have a medical marijuana dispensary open for business.

Shortly after the dispensary opened, the council enacted a citywide moratorium on any recreational sales of marijuana, which expires Jan. 1.

Since then, councilors have been divided on whether to consider further measures that would permanently prohibit any other dispensaries or processing sites.

Under House Bill 3400, Oregon counties and cities may vote to prohibit marijuana sales and businesses, despite the statewide legalization of pot. In Columbia County, 53 percent of voters approved the legalization.

During previous discussions, Mayor Scott Burge, Councilor Joel Haugen and Councilor Rich Riffle said the council would be asking Scappoose residents to vote on an issue they already voted to approve with Measure 91 in 2014.

Others, like Councilors Mark Reed, Jason Meshell and Barbara Hayden, said residents should have a chance to vote to specifically prohibit the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Monday's meeting will allow the council to vote on whether to take action.

“It's being put on the agenda to officially make that decision,” Burge said Tuesday. “There are council members that want to put it on the ballot so we're gonna have that discussion.”

If the city proposes another vote on marijuana and it fails, the city will not be allowed to collect any tax revenue from marijuana businesses.