Lake County approved an ordinance that calls for a one-year moratorium on local medical marijuana establishments during their Wednesday, April 16, regular session.
The Board of Commissioners took the action in a unanimous vote by Commissioners Dan Shoun and Brad Winters following a public hearing held that same morning. Commissioner Ken Kestner was not present for the meeting.
Ordinance No. 102 calls for a one-year moratorium that would be in effect until May 1, 2015, prohibiting any such facilities in Lake County during that period of time.
The ordinance additionally declares an emergency for its passage due to an approaching May 1, deadline for Oregon’s counties to take action.
“There’s a lot of unknowns,” Commissioner Winters said, referring to potential impacts to the county in light of legal processes still in flux on the issue at the state level.
The Commissioner also noted that the County had received three written comments on the issue.
The county moratorium does not eliminate current Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card holders from getting what they need elsewhere, but simply puts the issue on hold locally for the next year.
During the public hearing session, the Board received several comments in support as well as opposition to the proposed moratorium.
The County’s legal counsel, Jim Bailey, noted that the moratorium broaches a “wait and see” approach to how other counties avoid implementation mistakes and errors.
To date, he said, nine counties have approved moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries, while 14 counties, including Lake, had such an action pending. A total of 10 counties had not yet responded, or else took on a different approach to the subject.
Guest Mike Warren, who also serves as a Town of Lakeview Councilor, noted that the Town recently tabled the issue until more concrete clarification comes in from the state on the issue.
He also noted that the moratorium is being pushed by non-governmental lobbyist groups such as the League of Oregon Cities and Association of Oregon Counties.
Warren additionally said that he opposes the moratorium because there are residents in the county who need access to the OMMP program.marijuana before Oregon voters.
Bailey noted that the potential legalization of marijuana may have an eventual impact to counties should it pass, but at present the moratorium addresses solely the medicinal use of marijuana.
Voicing support for the moratorium was local resident and Lake District Hospital pharmacist Teresa Decker.
Decker cited her opposition to dispensaries, noting an FDA-legal capsule form that’s available for patients in need of medicinal marijuana. As for local statistics, she said between one to three percent of Lake County residents possess OMMP cards, and that the Commissioners need to represent the majority of its population.
With only 105 cardholders, Decker said she doesn’t see sufficient patient base to support a dispensary in Lakeview.
Opposing the moratorium was Jan Wright, who noted that many who would likely support a medicinal marijuana dispensary locally may not have come before the Commissioners due to peer pressure concerns.
“We’ve got to get over that,” she said.
Referring to the state of Colorado’s recent legalization of marijuana on the recreational forefront, Wright said that violent crime has dropped considerably following voter approval.
“It seems like that’s what peace officers would want,” she said.