Cascade Locks approves medical marijuana moratorium

Medical marijuana dispensaries looking to operate within the city limits of Cascade Locks will have to wait up until a year to do so after the Cascade Locks City Council voted to enact a moratorium on the dispensaries during its regular meeting Monday night.

The council voted 5-1 to approve and adopt an ordinance that places a year-long ban on the dispensaries, which would run from May 1, 2014 until May 1, 2015. City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman reported the lone “nay” vote came from Councilor Deanna Busdieker, who he said “was concerned about the necessity required by the state to adopt the ordinance before May 1.”

The city has not held any de facto public hearings on the dispensary moratorium, but Zimmerman said members of the public are always allowed to speak on any matter they wish during the public comment portion of city council meetings. Like other council meetings, Zimmerman reported nobody in the audience offered public comment on the issue.

Dispensaries began legally operating in the state early last month following a law that was passed by the Oregon State Legislature and signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber last year. However, a bill passed during the twilight of Oregon’s most recent special legislative session gives local municipalities the right to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the “time, place, and manner” in which dispensaries operate in addition to the rules already established by the state. The bill includes the option for municipalities to place one-year moratoriums on the dispensaries, during which time they may choose to explore and enact the time, place and manner restrictions.

The Hood River County Commission voted unanimously last week to enact a six-month moratorium in the county’s unincorporated areas, while the Hood River City Council voted unanimously the week before that to not enact a moratorium. With Cascade Locks’ moratorium, the city of Hood River is currently the only place in the county that allows medical marijuana dispensaries. At least one of the two dispensaries that have applied to operate in Hood River County would be located in the city of Hood River and is not affected by a moratorium. That dispensary, The Gorge Green Cross, has been granted a provisional license by the Oregon Health Authority and expects to be open in “a month or so,” according to owner Mike Rachford.

The Cascade Locks ordinance does not enact any time, place, or manner restrictions, which may be established within the next year if the city chooses to do so.

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