Many local governments in Oregon are enacting one-year bans on medical-marijuana dispensaries that state lawmakers recently gave them the authority to impose, but the city of Medford has enacted a permanent ban, a step the Legislature explicitly rejected during its most recent session.
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to impose the ban and revoked the business license of a local dispensary.
City officials argue that the city’s home-rule authority trumps legislative decisions to allow medical-marijuana dispensaries but to give cities and counties the power to delay openings until May 2015.
“We think we have the authority to have a moratorium regardless of the state action. So our moratorium will continue in effect permanently. It’ll go past the expiration date,” council member Daniel Bunn said.
Medford officials have argued that, despite the Legislature’s actions, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and they won’t grant a license to a business dealing in the drug.
The action likely sets up litigation. The owner of MaryJane’s Attic and MaryJane’s Basement said she’d go to court to keep the operations open.
“It’s not the outcome I wanted, but it’s the outcome I expected,” Marlene Nuckols said during the council meeting.
MaryJane’s operates out of a shopping center. Its business license covered two stores, one a dispensary and the other offering hemp clothes, jewelry and the like.
The Medford Council started in September to resist the medical-pot shops that have been operating in Oregon in a gray area until the Legislature acted in 2013 to regulate them.
Last month, under pressure from local officials, the Legislature allowed cities and counties to bar dispensaries until May 2015 but rejected their requests for authority to enact permanent bans. About two dozen jurisdictions are reported to have passed or to be working on ordinances in line with the legislation.
Information from: KTVL-TV, http://www.ktvl.com/