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Newport City Council temporarily punts on Med MJ dispensary sales of regular marijuana starting October 1st

Colorado Retail Store Medical Marijuana Dispensaries would sell product through end of the year.

Colorado Retail Store
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries would sell recreational product through end of the year.

The Newport City Council has decided to hold off approving the sales of regular marijuana at medical marijuana dispensaries effective October 1st. However, the council might approve it next month if they get some insight on Oregon Health Authority (OHA) regulations pertaining to the temporary arrangement of medical medical marijuana dispensaries selling recreational marijuana until January. The council said “We don’t know what those rules will be. So we’d rather hold off on any decision until we do.” Councilor Ralph Busby said he didn’t want to delay regular marijuana sales since the voters have already spoken they want it sold.

So the council stepped back, deciding they will wait to deal with the issue at either the September 8th or the September 21st city council meeting. By then they said the OHA regulations dealing with recreational marijuana sales by medical marijuana dispensaries will presumably be clearly laid out. At that point the council said they can vote more intelligently.

So the council has made a bet that the OHA may come up with suitable rules for regular marijuana sales through medical marijuana dispensaries. If they don’t like what they see, they could vote no on early sales via medical marijuana dispensaries effective October 1st effectively banning recreational marijuana sales until next year. The legislature, however, set November 8th of next year for the voters to either uphold their local ban or eliminate it.

City Manager Spencer Nebel said there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there that are having to take a chance that local governments won’t shut everything down until November 8, 2016. He asked the council to give it their best shot by the end of September on whether to enact a ban, or if the city planning commission can come up with some land use regulations of its own that the city council can approve regarding time, place and manner of retail marijuana sales. Because if they can’t, the concrete dries until November of 2016 – and then it’s the voters who decide on whether the growing, processing, wholesaling and retailing can go on inside the city limits of Newport. By the way, that doesn’t get in the way of individuals from growing four plants of their own and possessing marijuana from them.

If all this sounds complicated, it is. Measure 91, which was passed by a majority of Oregonians last November, was written by a group focused exclusively on recreational marijuana (since medical marijuana was already legal). They didn’t foresee medical marijuana dispensaries getting in to the recreational marijuana business. But that’s what the legislature crafted as a method to head off the growth of black market recreational marijuana sales due to the slowness of the legislature to create time, manner and place of where and how recreational marijuana would be sold. And when you step back a little, it appears that the legislature wants to give local jurisdictions time to get used to legal marijuana use and take close note that the world didn’t come to an end. And if they didn’t see the world come to an end it would be easier for local governments to accept a portion of what amounts to a 17% sales tax on recreational marijuana sales. What government entity turns down a chance to receive more tax money? We’re going to find out.

To get back to the hyper-confusing time line for recreational marijuana sales, other areas of Oregon have suffered an upwelling of problems associated with marijuana grows, processing, wholesaling and retail sales. Those getting ahead of the recreational marijuana curve have already bought land, erected indoor grow sites and can speed dial local police and private security firms.

In a number of areas around Oregon, rural residents situated on what are called exclusive farm use areas (regular farms) and Rural Residential ten acre parcels, are suffering from marijuana growers setting up their facilities right next to neighbors’ homes and livestock buildings. Needless to say, bright lights, processing noises and marijuana odors don’t mix well with homes on large lots RIGHT NEXT DOOR. There are also complaints that a “criminal element” may emerge since marijuana grows are specifically barred from having firearms on their premises, and because they’re located mostly in remote areas, it makes them sitting ducks for being robbed of both money and “inventory.”

It’s been said most marijuana growers and processors hire armed private security firms to handle such threats.

So, it’s up in the air in Newport until the 8th of September, at the earliest.

In the interest of industry and job creation, it’s a powerful attractant for jobs that pay well.
But it’s also a battle between a perception of threat vs. the delivery of well paying jobs – because there is so much money in it. And tax revenues for local governments.

Last week the Waldport City Council voted to stay out of the fray, deciding they would not oppose recreational marijuana sales by medical marijuana dispensaries.

Each and every city and county in the state are going through these machinations of either easing in or easing out of the marijuana business. Only a handful have closed the door – most of them in conservative eastern Oregon.

 

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