The Newport Planning Commission is recommending that the city council pursue a mostly hands-off approach toward medical marijuana regulation, in terms of land use, but re-examine closer scrutiny of marijuana dispensaries through the city’s business license codes.
The planning commission report to the city council for the council’s meeting this coming Monday strongly suggests that already existing state law pretty well covers where dispensaries can set up shop and where they can’t – yes to industrial, commercial and mixed-use zones, no to everything else. And that no dispensary can set up within a thousand feet of a school or another dispensary.
However, the planning commission did suggest that further regulations dealing with background checks on employees and sharing operations information and surveillance tapes with police, as well as reporting all alarm calls to police, could be included as requirements in the business license the city issues to a dispensary.
As far as taxing medical marijuana, the planning commission recommended against it, since its status is that of a medicine under state law. However, the commission did suggest that taxation on recreation marijuana could be possible, should it be legalized next November at the polls. But the commission suggested that the state would step in with new taxation provisions – one recreation marijuana legalizing petition providing for a $35 per ounce state tax on its sales, with ten percent of the revenue going to local cities and counties focused on beefing up law enforcement monitoring of recreational sales. The commission added that should the council jump in quickly to tax recreational marijuana, and the state passed a taxation law later, the city’s tax would likely NOT be “grandfathered” in.
The city council takes this on during their Monday evening session that begins at city hall at 6pm.