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Mayor nixes medical marijuana moratorium

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - At the door of the Sellwood medical marijuana dispensary is one of the owners of NW Green Oasis, Geoff Sugerman. The majority of the Board of the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League neighborhood association (SMILE) voted on April 17 to send a letter to the City of Portland “supporting a one-year moratorium on all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city”.

The grounds for such a moratorium, in the SMILE letter, were that the neighbors should have had more opportunity to weigh in on such a store before a business license was granted for it, and such facilities “may require special land use considerations”.

Mayor Charlie Hales’ office did receive the SMILE letter, and Hales considered the request, according his spokesman, Dana Haynes.

The Mayor consulted with City attorneys, the Portland Police Bureau, the Office of Government Relations and his staff about the request, Haynes assured THE BEE, and then opted not to act on a moratorium.

“When it comes to ‘Time, Place and Manner’ regulations, a moratorium is the strongest tool in the toolkit,” Haynes said. “Mayor Hales wants to strike the right balance between legitimate patient access to medical marijuana, versus potential neighborhood livability and public safety impacts.”

“Our city attorneys also tell us that cities like Eugene and Medford [are considering moratoriums], with circuit courts weighing in, regarding medical marijuana dispensaries,” he added. “The mayor and his staff are closely watching developments.”

Sam Chapman of NW Green Oasis, and the dispensary’s owners, said they were pleased, but not surprised, that Hales didn’t proceed with a moratorium. “There are a lot of patients here in Sellwood, and they are happy they don’t have to drive miles to get their approved-by-the-state medications,” Chapman commented.

He added that the owners of the Sellwood store are dedicated to 100% compliance with the rules and regulations governing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, which they say they helped the state legislators to write.

“We’ve told the neighbors if they ever see anyone medicating near our premises, or acting out in any inappropriate way, to call us. We want to be good neighbors.”