FONT & AUDIO
Lake Oswego city councilors extend ban on marijuana dispensaries
No licenses will be issued until the city's voters make their feelings known in November 2016
Recently appointed City Councilor Charles Collins cast the deciding vote Tuesday night to extend Lake Oswegos ban on marijuana dispensaries, breaking a 3-3 deadlock and sending the issue to voters on the November 2016 ballot.
I understand that Oregon voters statewide approved the recreational use of marijuana in 2014. I respect that decision of the voters, Collins told The Lake Oswego Review. But I believe it is an entirely different issue for Lake Oswego voters to decide whether there are going to be marijuana stores throughout our community, where they would be in everyday view of children going to school and participating in community activities.
Mayor Kent Studebaker and Councilors Joe Buck and Skip ONeill joined Collins in voting to extend the ban, which will apply to recreational as well as medical dispensaries. Producers, processors and wholesalers will also be prohibited.
Councilors Jackie Manz, Jeff Gudman and Jon Gustafson opposed the extension.
Marijuana exists in our community, even with the current ban in place. Many have or have had a grow house in our neighborhoods, tucked away in a corner, perhaps next door. They are not regulated, taxed or restricted," Manz said. "There is, from what I've learned, nothing we can do about them. However, we can monitor a well-regulated, taxed and licensed business."
Voters emphatically approved Measure 91 last year by a 54-46 percent margin in Lake Oswego to allow the use of recreational marijuana. Medical pot dispensaries began selling to recreational users in October. But the 2015 Oregon Legislature authorized local governments to ban production and sale of the drug, and more than two dozen cities and counties have done so.
Lake Oswego city code currently includes a ban on medical marijuana facilities through May 1, 2016, and prohibits issuing licenses to anyone involved in unlawful business activity. Pot dispensaries have been included in that category because marijuana distribution is still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The ban enacted Tuesday is an edited version of a draft ordinance written by the League of Oregon Cities; it now extends Lake Oswegos prohibition to recreational dispensaries until voters make their feelings known in November 2016. In the meantime, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will not register or license any marijuana facilities in Lake Oswego, and the city will not receive any state marijuana tax revenues.
There isn't going to be much revenue, O'Neill said.
Councilors first considered extending the ban in September, before Collins was chosen to fill the seat vacated by Karen Bowerman. The result was a 3-3 impasse, with strong feelings on both sides of the debate.
I was elected to do what I think is right for this community THIS community, Studebaker said at the time. Ill tell you quite frankly that Im very concerned, and Id like to know if our citizens are as concerned as I am and want to keep this out of here.
But Gustafson objected to what he saw as creating unnecessary controversy.
The fact of the matter is, the voters have settled this issue, he said. I dont think we should be sticking our noses in it, and I dont think we should stick the communitys nose in it by having that debate.
Studebaker vowed to resurrect the ordinance, however, once Collins could provide the fourth and deciding vote. He did so on Tuesday.
If Im right about what Im hearing, the voters of Lake Oswego will support our ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries throughout Lake Oswego," Collins said. "If Im wrong and the voters decide in November 2016 to approve marijuana stores in our community, I will respect the majoritys decision, of course. But I believe that Lake Oswegans should have the right to vote, and fundamentally, that is what this ordinance is about."
Buck tried to give voters two choices by splitting the ban into categories: one that would prohibit retail operations and another that would ban producers, processors and wholesalers. That attempt failed, though, and much of the discussion that followed focused on the need to have a plan in place "sooner rather than later," Manz said for where marijuana dispensaries can be located and when and how they operate if voters choose to allow them next year.
"I would think that even if voters said, 'We don't want to ban this,' then we wouldn't just say, 'OK, we're done here,'" Gustafson said. "Wouldn't we want to then come back and say, 'If it's going to be legal here, let's put these restrictions in place?'"
Studebaker and all six councilors agreed, directing city staff to begin work on a plan for time, place and manner restrictions.
Utility bills will increase by 3.9 percent next year after the council approved its 2016 list of master fees and charges. The typical Lake Oswego home will see the cost for water, wastewater, surface water and street maintenance jump by $5.53 a month, starting in July 2016.
The council also approved Republic Service's request for a 5.9 percent increase in charges for garbage and recycling pickup and directed staff to work with the company to develop a program for collecting food waste. Typical monthly increases: $1.11 for residential customers who use a 20-gallon cart; $1.47 for a 35-gallon cart; $2.34 for a 65-gallon cart; and $2.47 for a 90-gallon cart.