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Town Council asks for public opinion over medical marijuana

Town Council asks for public opinion over medical marijuana

A Lakeview Town Council work session on Monday, March 25 addressed which stance the community should take on medical marijuana dispensaries in the wake of recent state legislation.

Senate Bill 1531 legalized medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, subject to local government oversight of hours of operation, location, and manner of distribution. A moratorium has been established if communities enact the ordinance by May 1, allowing a one-year timeline to allow dispensaries while further information is compiled as to what may be the best approach for regulation while the legislature continues to debate clarification of the law and several unrelated potential recreational marijuana ballot measures are considered.

Mayor Mike Patrick cautioned against acting too quickly to enact regulations that could potentially violate the law, which could possibly lead to city lawsuits. The moratorium allows the council to potentially impose rules now while further analysis is done.

A spirited debate among the council recognized both the potential economic boost medicinal marijuana could provide in tax revenue, but also raises the issue of abuse of prescriptions and increased drug use within the community.

In a work session the town council is not permitted to vote, but recognizing that the issue of regulated drug distribution can be a hotly contested topic, the council is seeking public opinions. Council members suggested a public hearing to allow the community to provide their opinions, with a specific date and time to be determined. They also encouraged letters to the editor and public input letters be submitted to gauge public interest in the matter, with a formal vote on the moratorium expected to come in a future council meeting in April prior to the May 1, moratorium deadline.

With medical marijuana dispensaries now legal in the state, several communities have already taken steps to regulate and tax distribution. The legality of dispensaries is not in question, while clarification of the law continues to be debated at the county and state level it has been left up to local government to regulate or restrict placement and hours of operation or if an outright ban should be imposed within local city zoning limits. Lakeview previously has allowed dispensaries, though the location that had been set up has now been removed.

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