Lincoln City reverses track: City Council approves Medical Marijuana in “general commercial” and two other zones.
In a turnaround from their last city council meeting, Lincoln City Councilors, after having narrowed down where medical marijuana dispensaries can do business, voted unanimously Monday night to lift the threat of a moratorium on the sale of medical marijuana in Lincoln City. Councilors decided that dispensaries could set up shop in all city “general commercial” zones including Oceanlake Plan and Main Street and Nelscott Plan and Business zones. According to the city’s land use zoning map, that’s a lot of potential locations from Taft clear north to the last parcel of “general commercial” zoning that includes the DMV offices.
However, on a parcel by parcel basis, under state law no dispensary may operate within 1,000 feet of a public or private primary, secondary or career school, or 1,000 feet from another dispensary (as stated in the application). A thousand feet is a little longer than three football fields. So get out your maps and scale measuring sticks and watch commercial properties fall off the table in droves. There will be very few spots in town where dispensaries can set up.
The councilors also agreed to grandfather a medical marijuana operation if the applicant’s proposed operating location is properly zoned and that they already have their applications into the Oregon Health Authority and will be ready to do business within the next sixty days.
Councilors revealed that they had been educating themselves on the medicinal effects of the active ingredient in marijuana and have become convinced that it is an effective drug that addresses many symptoms of mental stress and physical pain associated with a number of diseases.
For most of the first hour of the council meeting, a number of marijuana patients, advocates and others, challenged the council to explain why they would put a barrier between ill people and what they need for relief from what hurts them. They reminded the council that state enforced security of dispensaries and the laboratory quality of the marijuana they sell provides confidence and peace of mind for medical marijuana users – which often they don’t have because of the sometimes “inconsistent logistics” of marijuana distribution. They said by allowing dispensaries to move forward in a more safe and secure manner, it would make it better for everyone involved.
Again, the vote to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in all general commercials zones, including commercial properties on both sides of Highway 101 through parts of Nelscott and Oceanlake, will be allowed as long as they also comply with state law on distances from schools, parks and other dispensaries.
Particularly absent from the council discussion was any mention of taxing the plant as a source of revenue for the city – talk of which has been quite common in other cities up and down Lincoln County including Newport, Toledo, Waldport and Yachats.
Of course the current situation with medical marijuana and its distribution could be altered by what is widely expected to be voter approval of recreational marijuana this November. How all that will shake out remains to be seen.
Many suggestions are making the rounds that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission should regulate it, but voters are also deciding on whether the OLCC should give up their sole right to sell hard liquor which begs the question about marijuana. If the voters decide that grocery stores can sell hard liquor, what’s to say that marijuana can’t be sold right along side it?
Next year’s session of the state legislature should prove to be quite interesting – totally apart from what might happen if Medford and other die hard anti-marijuana jurisdictions sue the state to keep the plant officially suppressed in their communities.
Ancient Chinese curse – “May you live in ‘interesting’ times.”