By Mary Harbarger
The Clackamas County commissioners unanimously adopted a one-year ban Thursday on medical marijuana facilities.
The moratorium will likely put several existing dispensaries out of business. The commissioners never wavered in voting for the moratorium, but did invite advocates and dispensary staff to work with the county to craft time, place and manner restrictions to be enforced once the moratorium is lifted.
The moratorium option comes through a law signed in March by Gov. John Kitzhaber that allows local governments to restrict medical marijuana facilities on the grounds of time, place and manner of operation.
Local governments can buy a year to craft the restrictions by imposing a moratorium before May 1. More than a dozen counties, including Washington County, have taken advantage of the law. Most cities in Clackamas County also passed temporary bans.
The Clackamas County commissioners blasted the Oregon Legislature for leaving it up to cities and counties to enact moratoriums.
“I think the Legislature were a bunch of wimps,” Commissioner Jim Bernard said. “They didn’t decide this on their own when they had the opportunity to do that.”
Bernard and most of his fellow commissioners conceded that medical marijuana does seem to benefit some patients, and Oregon is likely to legalize recreational marijuana in the next few years.
But, they also insisted that the moratorium was important to help assuage the fears of county residents who oppose marijuana use in any form.
“There’s a fear that people have that we need to figure out a way to resolve it,” Bernard said.
About 40 people showed up to Thursday morning’s business meeting to testify. Most were patients or dispensary owners who opposed the ordinance.
“I am not asking for no moratorium. I am asking for businesses that are licensed and following the rules to continue operating,” said Desirea Duvall, a manager at Maritime Cafe, a dispensary that’s been operating near Gladstone for about 2.5 years.
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