City votes for moratorium

While the city of Madras voted last week to move forward with a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries for the next year, Jefferson County took an opposite tack.

After a public hearing April 9, the county voted 2-1 not to have another hearing on the moratorium, essentially dropping the issue, which needed to be acted upon before May 1.

Several people addressed the commission, primarily expressing support for allowing medical marijuana clinics.

Cicilio Contreras, of Madras, said that he is a medical marijuana patient due to pain from an injured knee, and allergies to other pain medications.

After working all day, Contreras said he has to drive to Bend, where he said there are about 10 medical marijuana clinics to choose from.

"If we had a facility, you could go to it and you wouldn't have to get it in the street," he said. "It's illegal to get it in the streets; it'd be a lot easier just to come to a facility."

Contreras said there are many other patients who would benefit from a local clinic. As of April 1, in Jefferson County, there were 310 Medical Marijuana Program patients with cards for conditions including agitation related to Alzheimer's disease, cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and severe pain, among others.

In Oregon, there were 59,183 OMMP patients; 30,063 OMMP caregivers; and 1,545 Oregon-licensed physicians with current OMMP patients.

Marijuana has two main active ingredients, THC and cannabidiol or CBD, which is considered to have more medical applications, he pointed out.

"CBD is killing cancer cells," Contreras said. "They're proving it right now."

Commissioner John Hatfield said that he is concerned about abuse. "I have this great fear that there's going to be 10 percent legitimate cases and 90 percent abuse," he said. "Legitimate use of it is not my concern."

Israel Reynoso, of Madras, who would like to open a clinic with Contreras, said that medical marijuana patients must have a card to get the marijuana. "You go to the doctor to get the prescription; they'll give you a card."

"I'd like to help these people with illness," he said, by making it easier for them to get their medication. "We don't choose to be ill; it's just a thing that come with accident or anything else. Let's give these people a better life."

Clinics are working in Bend and Prineville, according to Reynoso. "Put it to the test," he said, asking for the commissioners' support.

Kathie Rohde, of Metolius, said that over the past year, her brother had cancer, and she drove him to a medical marijuana clinic in Bend. Although he is now cured of the cancer, doctors told him to try pot to stimulate his appetite.

"I would encourage you to support it," she said. "We kind of resent that we have to drive to Bend."

Sheriff Jim Adkins said that he considers marijuana a "gateway" drug, which leads to use of more dangerous drugs. "I totally disagree with the smoking part of it," he said.

Ideally, he would like to see it refined to obtain the beneficial ingredients, which could be used to help people.

"I think you should stop it for a year and wait for the state to decide how they're going to run this thing," said Adkins.

Contreras said that there are at least 20 medical marijuana growers in Madras. "What are they doing with that medicine?" he asked. "Nobody knows what they're doing with that medicine. If we had a clinic, the clinic would come pick it up, and dispense it legally to the (cardholders) in the city."

By opening a clinic, the marijuana could be sold legally, and not sold on the street, said Contreras, adding that they have a state license to sell medical marijuana, but the city denied their application to open a clinic.

On April 8, the Madras City Council unanimously approved a draft ordinance declaring a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities and declaring an emergency, so it can be formally adopted at the April 22 meeting.

Contreras and Reynoso both attended the meeting, but said they were too intimidated to speak.

At the commission meeting, City Councilor Tom Brown, who voted for the moratorium, commented, "The theory is that within this year, the state will actually address it and put stuff in place so we can really do it right."

Commissioner Wayne Fording said that he doesn't want the county's vote to affect Crooked River Ranch. "As far as Crooked River Ranch, I'd rather hear from them what they want to do with their commercial area, rather than us tell them what's going to be in their commercial district."

Fording said the areas where a marijuana clinic could be located in the county commercial zone — outside the city limits and urban growth boundary — are very limited.

"I don't even know if there are some existing buildings that people could use, or it they'd have to build something," he said.

During deliberations, County Counsel Alexa Gassner noted that if they passed the moratorium, it would expire in one year. "What this ordinance does is, kind of a technicality, it's an immunity for the business owners from being able to be prosecuted for unlawful activity, essentially."

When the moratorium expires, businesses have to be compliant with state law, she added.

Commission Chairman Mike Ahern said that he favors limited government. "I don't want Jefferson County to be more restrictive than the state of Oregon," he said. "I didn't want to have a public hearing on it."

Ahern and Fording voted against the moratorium, with Hatfield voting for it. A unanimous vote for the moratorium was required in order for the ordinance to move forward, so the county will not implement a one-year ban on medical marijuana facilities as allowed by state law.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine