Oregon: City Council To Ponder Early Recreational Marijuana Sales And More

Jacob Redmond

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The Salem City Council has two decisions to make about marijuana sales in the city, and members will begin the process Monday, Aug. 31.

The most immediate is whether the city is going to allow or prohibit the “early sales” period beginning on Oct. 1, of recreational marijuana from medical marijuana facilities. A decision that’s made somewhat complicated to both local city code and state law.

In Nov. 2014 Oregon passed Measure 91, which, legalized the recreational sale and use of marijuana in Oregon. And at the end of legislature passed a law that allowed for sales of tax-free recreational marijuana at medical dispensaries to begin Oct. 1 – more than three months ahead of the planned start date, Jan. 4.

However current city code is ambiguous about whether city residents would be able to partake in the “early sales” that would go from Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, said City Attorney Dan Atchison in a staff report to the council.

Current city code doesn’t expressly prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana at medical marijuana facilities, but it does bar anyone without a valid medical marijuana registry card from entering a facility. So under current city code only a person with a state issued medical marijuana registry card would be allowed to enter a medical marijuana facility in Salem to purchase recreational marijuana.

City staff is asking the council for clarity and a decision on whether the city will allow or prohibit the “early sales” in the city.

If the council indicates a desire to not allow the “early sales” the staff will begin the process of drafting an ordinance for first reading at the council’s Sept. 14 meeting. Most ordinances take two city council meetings to resolve, and the next meeting after Sept. 14 is Sept. 28.

The next decision is although not as time sensitive is more far-reaching- whether the city council has a desire to prohibit the sales of recreational marijuana in Salem beginning on Jan. 4.

The Oregon legislature did modify Measure 91 in 2015, by passing HB 3400, which provides some jurisdictions with the ability to ban marijuana sales if their county voted against the measure by more than 55 percent.

The bill did not create an option for counties to prohibit possession of marijuana or the personal growing of marijuana.

Counties where the vote was less than 55 percent against Measure 91(which includes Marion County), and indicated a desire to ban all sales of recreational marijuana an ordinance would be put up for a city election.

There is some debate about whether Salem would even need to take the ordinance to a city election considering federal law prohibits the use and sale of recreational marijuana. Due to federal law possibly preempting state legislation city staff believes the city might have the power to enact a ban of recreational marijuana regardless of Oregon’s law.

If Salem does decide to ban recreational marijuana sales it will not be eligible to receive a portion of the state tax.


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Full Article: City Council To Ponder Early Recreational Marijuana Sales And More
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