Lake Oswego joins more than 70 cities statewide

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego City Council votes for yearlong moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.Lake Oswego became one of more than 70 cities in Oregon to institute a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, with the city council voting 6 to 1 Tuesday evening to approve a yearlong moratorium on licensed facilities.

House Bill 3460, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Aug. 14, 2013, allows the Oregon Health Authority to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Under the new law, dispensary owners are required to apply to the OHA for licensing, and dispensaries must be located either on agricultural land or in a commercial, industrial or mixed-use zone. Dispensaries cannot share an address with growing sites and must be more than 1,000 feet from schools and other medical marijuana facilities.

To be licensed through OHA, a dispensary must already be registered as a business — and this is where cities like Medford and Gresham saw an opportunity to block medical marijuana storefronts as OHA began accepting applications March 1. These two municipalities became among the first to refuse to issue licenses to businesses that could be seen as being in violation with state or federal law, namely the Controlled Substances Act.

But neighboring cities Tigard and Tualatin have shied away from such prohibition, concerned it could open them to litigation. Both explored temporary moratoriums before Senate Bill 1531 granted a statewide ban that will expire May 2015 — with an opt-in deadline of May 1 of this year.

Initial drafts of Senate Bill 1531, introduced in February, allowed city and county governments to ban medical marijuana dispensaries outright. The revised bill ultimately redlined municipalities’ ability to prohibit dispensaries outright, but does permit both cities and counties to institute temporary bans through next year.

All the while, Lake Oswego has remained relatively quiet on the issue.

“It’s not suggested the council tonight debate or make some decision about marijuana use,” City Attorney David Powell told the council, “but (the ban) does allow (the city) to maintain status quo.”

Councilor Jon Gustafson cast the lone dissenting vote.

“I just don’t think the moratorium was needed,” Gustafson told The Review. “Personally I think that there are a lot of people that rely on medical marijuana, and that we shouldn’t be denying people in Lake Oswego that access.”

Gustafson confirmed there had not been much discussion among council members about medical marijuana legislation. He said he didn’t voice his objection to a longer-term ban in the city because he agreed that the moratorium would give the city and council time for discussion.

As of April 11, the OHA’s Marijuana Dispensary Program had approved a total of 43 dispensary applications statewide, and a registry of 38 facilities showed only two that are located in Clackamas County: one in Gladstone, and one in Milwaukie.

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