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City council bans marijuana dispensaries
BAKER CITY — A decision with statewide overtones arrived in an anticlimactic fashion Tuesday night when the Baker City Council passed a mandate to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
The council approved Ordinance No. 3330 — Prohibiting the Establishment of Marijuana Facilities/Dispensaries within City Limits — on its third reading and by a unanimous vote.
The ordinance — which will now go onto the city books — stipulates that any person, firm, organization or other entity that stands in violation of the mandate will face a fine up to $5,000. The ordinance will sunset on June 15, 2014.
The sunset clause will allow city officials to review a separate proposed, but related, business license ordinance. The clause will also allow city leaders to see what the Oregon Legislature decides to do with a bill that might allow cities and counties to restrict, but not ban, medical marijuana dispensaries.
In 2013, the Oregon Legislature approved a law that allows businesses in the state to grow and sell medical marijuana to people who have a card allowing them to use the drug for medicinal purposes.
As of Jan. 1, 60,516 people had a medical marijuana card. That includes 207 Baker County residents.
Since Gov. Kitzhaber signed the medical marijuana dispensary bill into law last August, many city, county and state elected leaders complained that the law — and legal guidance from the Legislature regarding the edict — created a political vacuum. Since the law emerged, many cities and counties across Oregon have passed local mandates to halt attempts to open medical marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdictions.
Some contend cities and counties have the right to decide what is best for their communities while others assert the Legislature, by passing the law allowing dispensaries, has the final say in the matter.
With its decision Tuesday, the Baker City Council joined ranks with cities such as Tualatin and Beaverton that created temporary bans against dispensaries.