Optional local rules would expire in May 2015

Tualatin’s decision to place a moratorium on newly legalized medical marijuana dispensaries may prove a sign of things to come on the state level.

Tualatin last week adopted the temporary ban, with a sunset date of Dec. 31. Meanwhile, the question of whether city and county governments can be compelled to enforce a state law to allow medical marijuana dispensary operations continues to bounce between the state’s legislative chambers, in the form of SB 1531.

This week, the House essentially overrode the Senate’s amendments to the bill.

As introduced, SB 1531 would have allowed county and city municipalities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, which have been able to register with the Oregon Health Authority since the beginning of March. But the Senate approved a version allowing such municipalities to only regulate operations of medical marijuana facilities, not prohibit them. The bill was passed with 30 votes, including those of Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, and Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland.

Last week, Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, and eight other members of the House reintroduced language to the bill allowing local governments to ban dispensaries. Although the revised bill was expected to pass through the House, a compromise of sorts was introduced Tuesday in light of likely Senate opposition.

A new amendment would allow cities and counties to place a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities, as Tualatin has, but only until May 1, 2015.

Local governments would have until May 1, 2014, to set a temporary ban.

A House vote on SB 1531 was pending at press deadline.

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