By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Council eyes ban on pot shops

Councilors indicated they were leaning toward an outright ban initially, at least until discrepancies between state and federal law are sorted out. While Oregon is in the process of legalizing pot sales for medicinal use, the federal government is holding the line, they noted.

It’s not clear whether cities can ban dispensaries, but McMinnville is just one of many giving some thought to that. The council decided to hold a public hearing on the issue Feb. 11 before making a final decision.

“Legislative Counsel opined that local governments are pre-empted from enacting laws that specifically target medical marijuana facilities,” Police Chief Ron Noble told the council in a memo. And he reiterated that at the meeting.

On the other hand, he said, “The League of Oregon Cities ... is of the opinion that local governments are not pre-empted from enacting laws that prohibit or restrict medical marijuana facilities.”

The conflict makes it difficult for cities to know how to proceed, he said.

Noble said many entrepreneurs have expressed interest in opening dispensaries, including at least one in McMinnville. He said cities are taking a variety of different tacks in response.

“Several cities are taking steps to keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of their jurisdictions, either by outright banning them or by requiring businesses to comply with all local, state and federal laws, thereby effectively banning them,” he wrote. Among them, he cited Medford, Hillsboro, Tualatin, Grants Pass and Gresham.

At the other end of the spectrum, Portland, Bend and Corvallis “are taking no action to discourage medical marijuana dispensaries,” Noble said. And he said Ashland is actually “taking action to clear the way.”

Noble is serving on a city task force also including City Manager Kent Taylor, City Attorney Candace Haines and Planning Director Doug Montgomery.

“To be clear,” he said in his memo, “staff is not in favor of having a medical marijuana dispensary located within our community, and believes that such a facility will negatively impact the health, safety and welfare of our community.”

State law already prohibits dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a primary or secondary school, Noble noted, and restricts them to commercial, industrial and agricultural zones. He said the task force is recommending the city also bar them from locating within 1,000 feet of the city’s library, aquatic center and community center.

Parks were not included on the list, Noble said, because all except a portion of Wortman Park lie in residential zones, where dispensaries are already prohibited.

Councilors, however, said they preferred the idea of banning dispensaries altogether, at least for the time being.

“This is a classic case of the cart before the horse,” said Councilor Kevin Jeffries.

The current administration says it won’t enforce federal marijuana laws, but that’s no guarantee the next administration will continue the same policy, he said, adding, “I’m really hesitant to do anything that would break federal law.”

Councilor Scott Hill agreed. He spoke in favor of a “temporary ban until there’s more clarification of the laws.”

Although the presentation was not billed as a public hearing, Mayor Rick Olson initially invited members of the audience to participate, saying he’d like to hear from them. The city staff and council objected, and Olson gave up on the idea when the council agreed to schedule a formal hearing with notice.

The hearing is slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at McMinnville Civic Hall, 200 N.E. Second St. The focus will be on a proposal for a temporary ban, based on the fact marijuana remains illegal under federal law.



I ask the council what is the difference between 20 flavors of beer on tap in McMinnville, inside the 1000' zone of schools, verses 20 strains of cannabis outside the thousand foot zone. Both can be had by minors. How many alcohol related MIPs did the McMinnville Police Department hand out last year? Why can the sale of something that can be consumed onsite then taken off site in a "growler" be permitted inside city limits and something that can not be consumed on site not be? Dispensary law says that no cannabis is to be consumed on site by patients. No chance for DUI. On the other hand, there are beer and wine tasting businesses all over the city and will leave a person over the legal limit after a glass or two. Both beer and wine can be addictive, abused and had by minors. Also, the liquor store is within 1000' feet of the high school, and, in fact, high school students mill about in front of it on their lunch hours eating the pizza they got next door. Likewise, these same high school students walk right next to the tobacco house on their way to Dairy Queen on their lunch hours. Where's the "protect our children" battle cry over that? Where are the meetings to ban the liquor store and tobacco house? Where's the push to ban wine tasting right on 3rd Street where students of all ages hang out? Anyone else see the hypocrisy here?Don't get me wrong, I have a growler bottle. I love the flavors of different beers. Just don't really see much difference.This is one place I feel where discrimination rears it's ugly head.There are just over 1000 registered medical marijuana patients in Yamhill county, no number on how may are SUCCESSFULLY produce cannabis for themselves, But if I had to guess, I would say 75%. Even if it's 50%, that leaves 500 patients in need. If Newberg allows, That number around the McMinnville area drops even more. It's really not that big of a population.


We are just looking for some equality. Nothing more.

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