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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Pot moratoriums established in 71 Oregon cities

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Pot moratoriums established in 71 Oregon cities

PORTLAND  — At least 71 Oregon cities have moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries, and more than 40 others are considering bans, according to the League of Oregon Cities and the Association of Oregon Counties.

The Legislature allowed local governments to impose a one-year ban, if enacted by May 1. The law also gives local governments the ability to regulate when and where pot shops may operate.

The League of Oregon Cities and the Association of Oregon Counties asked the Legislature to give local jurisdictions the power to outlaw dispensaries. The groups provided The Oregonian with the list of cities (http://bit.ly/1ilEdwo).

The state has 242 incorporated cities and 36 counties.

The Legislature voted in 2013 to put medical marijuana dispensaries on a legal footing and make them subject to regulation. Many had been operating in a legal gray area.

Several cities resisted the Legislature's action, some citing local codes that forbid business licenses for enterprises that violate federal law.

That set up the debate in 2014's legislative session, when local jurisdictions lobbied for the authority to outlaw dispensaries permanently. The Legislature ultimately allowed them a year. A debate over the issue is likely in next year's legislative session.

Some local jurisdictions want permanent bans on marijuana dispensaries, but others just want more time to see how the state-regulated system works, said Rob Bovett, legal counsel for the Association of Oregon Counties.

"You have a mix of cities and counties that are definitely saying no and you also have quite a number saying, 'We don't know yet. We want time,'" Bovett said.

Among the cities that have not imposed moratoriums are Portland, Bend and Eugene.

Leland Berger, a Portland lawyer who advises medical marijuana businesses statewide, called the list of cities with moratoriums "more disappointing than surprising."

He said he's encouraged by municipalities like Albany and Klamath Falls, where officials rejected moratoriums.

Locally, moratoriums have been enacted in Elgin and Island City. La Grande and Union County will consider moratoriums, with both entities holding public hearings on the matter Wednesday. 

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