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Scappoose: No recreational sales of marijuana in our city

City will likely ask voters to ban recreational dispensaries in 2016

COURTNEY VAUGHN - Scappoose city councilors Barbara Hayden, Rich Riffle and Jason Meshell discuss marijuana facilities in city limits during a workshop Tuesday, Sept. 8.

You won't be able to purchase marijuana for recreational use in Scappoose any time soon, and Scappoose city councilors would like to keep it that way.

Following a unanimous vote from the Scappoose City Council Tuesday, Sept. 8, an ordinance went into effect immediately banning any early sales of marijuana for recreational use. State law allows medical marijuana dispensaries to sell products to recreational users on Oct. 1. The city's ordinance will stay in effect until Dec. 31, 2016, when early sales of marijuana from medical dispensaries automatically expires statewide.

Scappoose voters will likely be asked to vote on banning all recreational sales of marijuana in city limits in 2016, effectively making the temporary ban permanent.

A spirited discussion during a workshop immediately before Tuesday's council meeting revealed stark disapproval of all marijuana facilities from Councilors Barbara Hayden and Jason Meshell.

“Can we ban it all together?” Hayden asked Shelby Rihala, the city's attorney. “I just think the state has put the cart before the horse and has mucked this thing up so badly. I don't want any part of it, to be honest.”

Meshell was a staunch opponent of allowing dispensaries to receive business licenses from the city, citing a conflict with federal law.

He remained emphatic Tuesday, engaging his fellow councilors on their stance on marijuana.

“The Scappoose City Council, from what I see, wants marijuana here and wants to bring it in here, wants to grow it and wants to profit from it,” Meshell said. “I want you all to just stand up and say what you mean, which is you want marijuana in Scappoose, and more of it, or you don't. … Let's be clear on what we're doing and not try and sugarcoat it with paperwork and big words.”

Councilor Joel Haugen countered Meshell's sentiments, saying an approval of marijuana facilities isn't an endorsement.

"I sympathize with Jason's perspective on this," Haugen said. "I don't think anybody here wants more social problems in our community, but it's not as simple and black and white ... “I want to decriminalize it and I want to regulate it. ...You can't legislate morality, but you can regulate."

In November 2014, Oregon voters passed Measure 91, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Further rules enacted by the state allow cities to ask voters to ban medical marijuana and recreational dispensaries, but not medical marijuana grow sites, Rihala explained.

Columbia County residents voted 53 percent in favor of the measure. Each of the precincts within Scappoose approved the measure, but the councilor was adamant that the city ask voters to ban recreational marijuana dispensaries and grow sites.

A medical marijuana dispensary already operating in Scappoose will remain open, but it won't be permitted to sell products to recreational users under the newly adopted ordinance.

Scappoose Police Chief Norman Miller reported Tuesday evening that the dispensary is less than 400 feet from the city's skate park across the street.

The council is expected to take further action in coming months to get a measure on the ballot banning recreational marijuana sales and commercial grow sites.