Bill would put limits on siting of dispensaries

by: CONTRIBUTED - Marijuana leafA bill to give local entities control over the location of medical marijuana dispensaries may soon hit the state Senate floor, said Steve Bates, president of the Boring Community Planning Organization.

Bates went to Salem this week to hear discussion of Senate Bill 1531 in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he believes the bill soon will come to a committee vote.

If approved, it will then go the Senate floor.

Bates is quick to reserve judgment against those who use medical marijuana dispensaries, but said he and others were “blindsided” when three dispensaries opened in the area, with one in Boring. He said the decision was made by the state, not Clackamas County, and Boring residents had no input.

“Predominantly what we’re looking for is that the cities and the counties would have the ability to have siting authority for cannabis or marijuana and also additional authorities where they can conceivably establish fees and make it a revenue stream,” Bates said.

Bates said when the state allowed the Mt. Hood Wellness Clinic to open in Boring, many people thought they were finally getting a doctor in the unincorporated community, but soon learned they were mistaken.

“It opened in November and that’s of concern because the people of Boring were blindsided,” he said. “No one had an opportunity to speak for or against the siting of that facility.”

Bates emphasized that the CPO is not taking a stand against people who use the dispensary.

“The Boring CPO, by all means, is neutral on the medical marijuana issue,” he said. “We’re just concerned that there was no hearing, no notice, it caught everybody by surprise, and it’s right next door to a family restaurant.”

T.J. Werth, owner of Nuts on Sports Pizza at 31265 S.E. Compton Road, Boring, next door to the Mt. Hood Wellness Clinic at 31277 S.E. Highway 26, was hesitant to condemn the dispensary, but said his business has been broken into since the dispensary opened in November, and recently survived another attempted break-in.

“I don’t want to be judgmental toward people and try to do what God tells me to do, and he tells us to be clear-minded,” Werth said.

The Boring CPO officially endorsed SB 1531 at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 4.

According to a statement from the CPO, “The Boring CPO takes no stand, for or against, legalizing marijuana. With that said, the Boring CPO adopted by majority vote a position statement supporting the passage of Senate Bill 1531.”

If the siting of the dispensary had been under the purview of Clackamas County, Bates said, “The county planning department would set up planning rules and a procedure so in the event of a siting there would be a hearing or a notice.”

Les Otto, who attended the Boring CPO meeting and spoke in support of the bill, said he was concerned that the dispensary was authorized by the state without input from neighbors and the CPO.

After the meeting, Otto said he is concerned because Nuts on Sports Pizza sponsors a lot of sports activities for children, and the dispensary is just up the street from the Mormon Church, which also has a lot of activities for children.

“I sent a notice to the Senate Judiciary Committee and submitted testimony to them, as did several in the community, to give local control over where (dispensaries are) located,” he said.

Bates said he attended a state Senate Judiciary Committee discussion on the bill and feels that it soon will go to the full Senate.

“Chairman (Sen. Floyd) Prozanski said it would hold over for a work session today or tomorrow,” Bates said. “That’s a good sign they will discuss it and have a vote. If it passes, it’s got legs.”

A summary of the bill from the state legislative website reads that the bill, “Specifies that governing body of city or county may regulate or restrict operation of medical marijuana facility, prohibit registration of medical marijuana facility, or regulate, restrict or prohibit storing or dispensing of marijuana by facility legally authorized to store or dispense marijuana.”

Chief sponsors of the bill are Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena; Sen. Rod Monroe, D-Portland; and Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro. Co-sponsors include more than a dozen senators, including Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, whose district includes a portion of Boring.

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