Last year when medical marijuana dispensaries were opening up, Lincoln County Counsel Wayne Belmont urged his commissioners to hold off licensing any dispensaries in the county – that is – outside any city limits. Belmont reasoned that the state had offered only broad regulations, allowing cities and counties to come up with some of their own. And many of them did, though mostly focusing on hours of operation, who could come inside, what’s visible from the street – those sorts of things.
Again Belmont’s advice was to put off approving any dispensary licenses until the state figured out a regulatory framework that would work. But in the meantime, the state set a limit on how long the moratorium could remain in effect – and set April 30th, 2015, as the last day that any city or county could keep their moratorium in place.
But here we are, around a year later, and Belmont and his commissioners are still waiting for more definitive guidance from the state on regulations. Belmont said the state doesn’t appear willing to extend the moratorium even though the state legislature won’t have a number of marijuana rules in place, for both medical and recreational marijuana, until well after the local moratoriums are up. So he told his commissioners that if the county doesn’t want to run the risk of being under-regulated come May 1st, they’ll have to hurry up and adopt at least SOME locally-based regulations and enact them by May 1st. When the state regulations are eventually firmed up, then the commissioners can re-assess what local regulatory additions might be appropriate.
The commissioners quickly agreed and charged Belmont, the planning department and other county officials to establish regulations above and beyond what is found in state minimums. Belmont said the county’s supplemental regulations will be formulated by staff, thoroughly evaluated by the county planning commission and then forwarded to the county commission by either April 22nd or 29th. So come May 1st, there will be no regulatory gap and anyone who applies to open a medical marijuana dispensary on May 1st will have to do so with reasonable legal constraints, as others have, in Lincoln City, Newport, and Waldport.