Members feel regulation necessary in case city forced to lift its ban

In anticipation of Oregon Senate Bill 1531, which would allow local governments to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, the Sandy City Council voted Tuesday, Feb. 18, to set regulations in place in case the city is forced to lift its ban.

On Jan. 21, City Council members voted to adopt Ordinance 2014-03 amending sections of the municipal code and banning medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within city limits.

Ordinance 2014-01, which the council adopted last week, amends the municipal code by listing medical marijuana facilities as a conditional use and creating a new definition of “medical facility” so it does not include these marijuana facilities.

The ordinance — which would take effect only if passage of a state Senate bill forces Sandy to lift its ban — limits operations of medical marijuana facilities to light industrial zoning districts, at least 1,000 feet from public parks and schools.

At the Feb. 18 meeting, the council continued the public testimony hearing that began Feb. 3. Citizens from both sides of the discussion showed up to be heard.

One Portland resident participated on behalf of a client who operates a medical marijuana facility. He stated he felt the Sandy council went too far in allowing these facilities to operate only in light industrial zones. And because the facilities are used for medical reasons, they should be allowed to operate within commercial zoning as well.

“My client just wants to open a business in a safe, regulated area,” he said.

After the public hearing, Planning and Development Director Tracy Brown presented maps showing the light industrial (I-2) zoning area and the 1,000-foot buffers surrounding Sandy parks and schools. The buffers are in place to assure that these facilities are not too close to areas frequented by children.

“This will only be used if we’re forced to repeal Ordinance 2014-03, but it will be effective immediately,” said City Councilor Jeremy Pietzold. “If the state changes the rules of the game, this would give us the ability to regulate if we’re forced into that.”

Mayor Bill King said they were doing what they felt was necessity in case the city is forced to rescind the ban. “If we’re told we cannot ban them, and we have no regulation, it’d be a free-for-all,” King said.

The I-2 zone that would allow marijuana facilities if the ban is lifted is only a small area on the west side of Sandy.

But King said he thinks medical marijuana facilities have no place in Sandy.

“I think the state is trying to legalize a corner drug dealer,” he said. “And I don’t think we should allow it in our cities.”

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