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Scappoose voters will consider marijuana business ban

Scappoose voters will decide fate of future marijuana businesses within city

Scappoose residents will vote on whether to ban future marijuana businesses within city limits later this year.

In a split vote Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Scappoose City Council voted 4-3 to refer an initiative to voters in the November 2016 election.

COURTNEY VAUGHN - Scappoose City Councilor Jason Meshell, center, argues his position for referring an initiative to ban future pot businesses in the city to the November ballot to the City Council, including supporting Councilor Barbara Hayden, left, and Mayor Scott Burge, right, who voted against the proposal. The council approved an ordinance to refer the matter to voters by a vote of 4 to 3.   
Councilors Joel Haugen, who voted by phone, Rich Riffle and Mayor Scott Burge opposed the vote, saying Scappoose residents already approved of recreational marijuana use and subsequent businesses when they voted on Measure 91.

Under the new ballot measure, the city's current medical marijuana dispensary will remain, but future marijuana dispensaries, processing sites and commercial grow sites would be banned.

Councilors were starkly divided on whether to propose another vote.

“To me, this is an issue of the will of the people,” Councilor Riffle said. “I don't think that we're here to impose our will on them.”

But Councilor Jason Meshell, who has been the most outspoken proponent of the ballot initiative, suggested another vote would be “materially and substantially different.”

“To me, we are not coming against the will of the voters,” Meshell said. “We're still allowing recreational marijuana to be used in our city. What we're doing is asking the voters, now that that is allowed, how do you want it to happen in your city?”

During previous discussions, the council heard mixed messages from the public. A local school board member urged the council to approve the initiative, saying more retail and grow sites would mean easier access to marijuana by children. Others, primarily marijuana dispensary business affiliates, said the city would miss out on significant tax revenue by banning pot businesses.

The proposed ban wouldn't affect current state laws regulating personal use of marijuana within city limits.

Scappoose was the first city in South Columbia County to have a medical marijuana dispensary, but if voters approve a ban, it will be the only city prohibiting all other marijuana businesses.