Moratorium gives council members a year to create policies for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The message from the West Linn City Council was clear: We're not ready for medical marijuana now, but we will be later.

The council voted unanimously Monday in support of a one-year moratorium on state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries being placed within city limits. The city’s ordinance also included an emergency clause to put the moratorium in effect immediately after its adoption.

Resolution 1620 allows the city to place a one-year ban on medical marijuana from May 1 to May 1, 2015. Though the Oregon Legislature decriminalized medical marijuana sales in 2013, a bill passed at the end of the 2014 legislative session allows cities to impose a one-year moratorium if they are so inclined.

State law requires that a moratorium must be formally adopted by May 1. Surrounding cities such as Wilsonville, Tigard and Sherwood have also enacted one-year moratoriums.

Though she supported the one-year moratorium, Council President Jody Carson also made clear that she expected this to be a temporary measure. In a work session April 7, Carson said she considered medical marijuana dispensaries to be “no different from a pharmacy.”

“I just wanted to make sure we’re going to see staff coming back in future with a plan,” Carson said, “in terms of what we need to do within our city to look at other ordinances or zoning changes or other changes to our codes that would provide some guidance in terms of locations for medical marijuana dispensaries.”

Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton said she would be following the issue throughout the next year, focusing in particular on the cities that did not enact a one-year moratorium.

“This won’t be the end of medical marijuana in the city,” Thornton said.

“We’re not taking a stand one way or another on medical marijuana by passing this ordinance,” City Councilor Mike Jones said. “We’re simply trying to alleviate cost and the trouble of being a groundbreaker as it relates to zoning, appropriate use and dispensation, and all of those other issues we’ll face.”

In the April 7 work session, Thornton noted that the city has only nine locations where a dispensary could be located, based on current zoning codes.

According to Community Development Director Chris Kerr, the city has yet to hear from any parties interested in placing a dispensary in West Linn.

“There will be some cities who allow dispensaries, some who will not,” Mayor John Kovash said. “We will not be cutting edge, but we’ll follow closely how it progresses in the state and hopefully be prepared a year from now.”

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