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New state law puts marijuana sale ban back on table in SH


July 21, 2015

The City Council has decided to move forward with a process outlined in House Bill 3400, possibly prohibiting some or all commerce in marijuana based on a citywide vote in November.

City Attorney Robert Snyder brought proposed questions to council members during their regular meeting on July 14 to be submitted to Sweet Home voters for an advisory vote in November.

But the council needs to address two new state laws, House Bill 3400 and Senate Bill 460, both passed as the legislative session came to a close, in the process, Snyder told the council.

Following the council discussion, Snyder said “we are going to follow the process set out in HB 3400.”

Snyder said he is researching what the city will need to do to put questions on the ballot. He will return to the council with information at the council’s next regular meeting, scheduled for July 28.

Any action must be put in the form of an ordinance under HB 3400, but he wants to clarify whether it must go through the full ordinance-approval process, which includes three readings and a vote to adopt the ordinance, prior to placing it on the ballot.

Under HB 3400, city councils and county commissioners may adopt ordinances prohibiting marijuana processing, medical marijuana dispensaries, marijuana producers, marijuana wholesalers, marijuana retailers or any combination of them.

Those ordinances are referred to the voters at the next statewide election, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Oregon Health Authority must stop registering or licensing those facilities until the date of the election.

Prohibiting any of them prevents a city or county from imposing a tax on marijuana or marijuana products, and existing medical marijuana dispensaries have a grandfather provision in the statute.

Senate Bill 460 authorizes the sale of “limited marijuana retail products” at medical marijuana dispensaries beginning on Oct. 1 but allows cities and counties to prohibit the practice by ordinance.

Limited marijuana retail products include dried leaves and flowers, seeds and non-flowering plants. The statute limits the sale to a quarter ounce of dried marijuana leaves or flowers and four non-flowering plants.

Prior to the Oregon legislature passing the two new laws, the council sought input from the public about how it should handle medical and recreational marijuana use and intended to ask through an election process.

Recreational use became legal under state law on July 1, based on the passage of Measure 91 statewide in November.

Snyder presented four possible questions to go to the ballot for an advisory vote. They included the following:

- Should registered medical marijuana dispensaries be allowed to operate within Sweet Home?

- Should licensed recreational marijuana facilities be allowed to operate within the City of Sweet Home?

- Should the use of medical marijuana be allowed within the City of Sweet Home?

- Should the use of recreational marijuana be allowed within the City of Sweet Home?

The council could use those questions or ask other questions, Snyder told the council.

“The sad part for me, we already voted this down once,” said Councilor Dave Trask. “Now we’re going to have to go through this process all over again.”

Voters in the Sweet Home area voted against Measure 91, but it was by less than 55 percent against, Snyder said. Councils and county boards of commissioners in which 55 percent or more voted against Measure 91 have the ability to pass ordinances without going to voters.

Present at the council meeting were Ryan Underwood, Greg Mahler, Mayor Jim Gourley, Trask, Bruce Hobbs and Jeff Goodwin.


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