Dundee government — Despite impassioned testimony from opponents, council votes 4-2 to initiate a one-year ban; second vote set for Thursday

By the time the Dundee City Council meeting started April 15, it was standing room only. More than 20 people filled the cramped council chambers awaiting their turn to address the council and the proposed medical marijuana dispensary moratorium. Two hours later, the audience was visibly weary, but once public comments started the passion was clear.

Many cited personal connections to medical marijuana: a wife in constant pain, a father with cancer, even a few sharing their personal challenges helped with the PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Contentious issue - Last week's decision by the City Council means a proposed dispensary cannot locate in town for the next year.

But the mostly pro-dispensary audience was unsuccessful in swaying the council away from a moratorium and the ordinance passed 4 to 2. An emergency second vote is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Thursday.

“Keeping in mind what our vision is for the community and the decision made here to benefit our residents, I don’t know that this fits into that description for me in terms of if it benefits the majority of our community,” said Councilor Jennifer Munson.

Munson wasn’t alone in her concerns for the majority benefit of the community.

“I believe in the need for this medicine, however I believe there’s less harm in waiting,” said Councilor Doug Pugsley.

Councilor Storr Nelson also voted in favor of the moratorium, citing zoning concerns among others.

“This is not for or against marijuana dispensaries, this is a vote to make sure we have all our ducks in a row when it comes time,” Nelson said.

But Councilors Jeannette Adlong and David Russ joined the absent Mayor Ted Crawford in their decision that Dundee should abstain from joining the at least 71 other Oregon cities with moratoriums.

“I think we do have enough information to be able to understand what this facility is and what it would do and who it would help in the community,” Adlong said. “I relate to the comment that somebody said that people are scared to come in and talk about this, I’m scared to sit up there in the council and say that I’m against this moratorium. I don’t see it as the threat to the community that people perceive. I hear the fear underlying all the people’s comments but I think that fear is really not found in reality.”

Russ commented that his daughter uses medicinal marijuana to help with her health issues and delaying the opening of Human Collective dispensary would only “regulate them out the door.”

“The question that comes to me, what regulations are we going to add if we don’t know anything about the business?” Russ said. “Are we going to learn more and know more than our state legislators who have been talked to about this and talked to about this?”

Sarah Bennett, Human Collective director, said she opened the organization’s first facility in 2010 because she knew there was a need to fill.

“People need safe access to this medication. I believe this medication can do something good,” Bennett said. “I’d rather be a role model and help the situation.”

She continued in her testimony that she and her facility would not be a detriment to Dundee.

“I promise you that,” she said. “I hope that the city council, you maintain your integrity and allow us to move forward with this project that we’ve already invested $7,000 in and committed to you for three years. I will not do you wrong.”

The emergency meeting is open to the public, but City Administrator Rob Daykin said public comment is not being solicited. The city council could chose to accept comment if they desire, however.

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