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Town Council tables medicinal marijuana

Lakeview Town Council’s regular session meeting was well attended and hotly debated, tackling the sensitive issue of whether a one-year moratorium on medicinal marijuana dispensaries should be implemented by the May 1, 2014 deadline. After hearing from numerous citizens and a passionate debate among council members, in a 3-2 vote the moratorium was tabled under a motion raised by council member Mike Warren.

The one-year moratorium has been suggested by the legislature in accordance with Senate Bill1531, which would allow each community time to analyze how best to regulate the time, manner, and place of distribution.

Multiple Lakeview residents spoke passionately both in favor and against allowing medicinal marijuana dispensaries to exist within Lakeview city limits. Arguments in favor included citing a boost in tax revenue, historic precedent, freeing up the judicial system, and overall medical benefits.

Opponents cited that it could lead to more access to drugs by kids, increased drug use in the community, criminal activity, and that a pharmaceutical pill (Marinol) for marijuana already exists for pain relief. One proponent of dispensaries countered that due to an intestinal disorder she is unable to properly process pills, therefore can only smoke the drug for pain relief.

Mayor Mike Patrick also read multiple letters and emails that had been received in the lead up to the vote, arguing both in favor and against the moratorium. Each council member spoke of their personal difficulty and conflict involved in the sensitive topic, recognizing valid arguments to each side and the numerous conversations they have had with residents and experts in the medical field in the lead up to the session.

The issue appeared to be heading towards approval of the moratorium under advice from Mayor Patrick, until council member Warren provided enlightening evidence of the moratorium’s origins and belief that the council has been misled under pressure to approve it within the fast-approaching deadline.

Warren presented information stating that he had tried to get a proper response from the Oregon Health Authority, administers of the program, but instead was referred to the League of Oregon Cities, a non-governmental lobbyist group, while he continues to be unable to get a proper response from a government agency on the matter.

Stating that it is unethical for a moratorium vote to take place when no governmental agency has been able to provide a definitive answer as to how to regulate distribution, it is in the best interest to table the amendment until the state provides guidance on exactly what is being asked of the council. Warren explained that an email response from OHA had greatly upset him, where it stated that the legislation had been moved forward at the request of the League of Oregon Cities, and referred him to instead contact the chief sponsors of the bill in the state senate for direction.

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