Pot policies: Cities grapple with legalization of marijuana in October

October, 2015 Posted in Community, News

By Mary Owen

An ordinance passed by the Stayton City Council to set rules for marijuana facilities to operate in the city goes into effect this month.

“Currently, there are two dispensaries that have submitted applications to the state as of June 30 to operate in Stayton,” Police Chief Rich Sebens said. “Neither has opened their doors for business.”

Under state and local regulations, with the passage of Oregon’s new recreational marijuana law, Sebens said a possibility exists for Stayton to have four retail/dispensaries in town based on the 1,000-foot rule from any school and the need to be within a commercial zone.

“Marijuana processing and manufacturing facilities can locate in the city’s industrial zone but they must be 1,000-feet from each other and any other facility,” he said.

At the Aug. 3 city council meeting, Stayton resident Jim Hansen shared his concern about sending the wrong message if the city allowed recreational marijuana dispensaries.

“If marijuana is medicinal, let’s sell it at a pharmacy,” he said. “A ban would help us send a clear message to our children that something is wrong with using marijuana.”

Resident Rese Bourdeau countered Stayton could lose revenue by not embracing the new law.

“This is one substance which is coming to a place where it can be regulated, monitored and taxed,” she said. “If we don’t sell it here, our neighbors will continue to buy somewhere else. If we go dry, we do not get a portion of the tax money to support authority, court and anything that has to do with it. We cut ourselves out from the pie.”

Stayton’s two pending businesses, at 275 N. Third Ave. and 2340 Martin Drive, may fall under state laws that grandfather in establishments that have applied or received a license from the Oregon Health Authority and have completed local land use process, City Administrator Keith Campbell said.

“It is staff’s opinion that under Ordinance 983/Resolution 93, these establishments would most likely be grandfathered under the statute, and not affected by a local ban, if one were enacted,” Campbell told councilors.

With dispensaries looming, and even though Stayton police are trained on DUII and drug investigations, Sebens expects to continue training in that area to be ready for impacts the new law might have on the department.

“My best estimate – based on my experience and what other states that have implemented other similar laws – is that we will see in an increase in DUIIs, overdoses, and most concerning, an increase in juvenile usage,” Sebens said.

Other Santiam Canyon cities are taking the new marijuana law seriously and are considering opting out, an option for most cities and counties. A list of those prohibiting the establishment of licensed recreation marijuana produces, processors, wholesalers, and/or retailers can be found at the OLCC website at  www.oregon.gov.

“Our city attorney is preparing a resolution to bring it to the voters on Aumsville opting out of any sales in town,” City Manager Maryann Hills said.

Aumsville currently has regulations in place for medical marijuana facilities and grow sites. The resolution will come before the city council on Oct. 12 to decide whether the resolution will go before voters, Hill said.

Mill City is considering whether to place the issue of banning marijuana dispensaries within city limits on the November 2016 ballot. A public forum was held on Sept. 20, and the city must complete the adoption of an ordinance stating its intentions within 180 days of the passage of HB 3400.

Since substantial cost is attached to placing an option before voters, Linn County, which includes Lyons and part of Idanha and Mill City, is considering instituting a business license with a small fee and requiring businesses to meet all state and federal laws. Selling marijuana is still illegal federally.

Overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Measure 91 allows for adults 21 and older to possess and use recreational marijuana at home or on private property. Medical dispensaries may sell small amounts of medical marijuana starting Oct. 1. Adults can possess up to 8 ounces of usable marijuana in their home and 1 ounce of usable marijuana outside of the home. Up to four plants can be grown per residence, out of public view. Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal and marijuana can’t be taken out of state, including Washington.

For information, visit www.whatslegaloregon.com.

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