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Joint work session between the City Council and Police Advisory Board was held Tuesday



GAZETTE FILE PHOTO - The council will decide in the coming weeks if it will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot on a temporary basis.
The Sherwood City Council will soon take up the question of whether to allow early sales of recreational marijuana in the city.

On Tuesday, the council, along with members of the Sherwood Police Advisory Board, met in a work session to discuss the possibility of allowing early sales of recreational marijuana at medical marijuana dispensaries. Although there are no medical marijuana facilities yet in the city, one is set to soon open along Tualatin-Sherwood Road this fall.

Josh Soper, Sherwood city attorney, told those gathered that medical marijuana dispensaries can begin selling recreational marijuana beginning Oct. 1 if approved by local government bodies. Those sales can continue until Dec. 31, 2016.

Soper said sales at such facilities would mean that customers could purchase one-quarter of an ounce of dried leaves or flower, four marijuana plants without flowers and marijuana seeds each day. Specific rules regarding the recreational sale of marijuana by local retailers is an issue the Oregon Legislature and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission have been grappling with but most likely won’t be determined until mid-2016.

Soper said there will be no local or state taxes attached to marijuana purchases until Jan. 4, 2016, at which time taxes on the products will be 25 percent of the total purchase amount, an amount that will drop to 17 percent once the recreational marijuana businesses are up and running. From there, cities can implement an additional tax up to 3 percent.

During the Tuesday work session, Laurie Zwingli, chairwoman of the Sherwood Police Advisory Board, said she has heard from some residents who say they don’t want recreational pot users in medical marijuana locations since most customers are sick and want a calm, relaxing place to purchase their medicine.

Currently, the city of Tigard has agreed to allow recreational marijuana sales at medical marijuana facilities but the city of Tualatin is mulling whether to ask voters if they are in favor of selling marijuana in that city at all.

Councilor Jennifer Harris said she worries about the number of people who are scouting out locations to open recreational marijuana locations in Oregon with no knowledge of the product they plan to sell or what they are doing.

“My concern is all of a sudden this floodgate is going to open all at once,” she said.

Councilor Sally Robinson reminded the council that the majority of Sherwood residents in three precincts voted against the legalization of recreational marijuana. Still, she said the city hasn’t decided whether to send a ballot measure to voters to ask if they want to ban sale of the recreational use of the product in the city.

Another member of the Police Advisory Board, Bob Silverforb, said his preference would be to ban early recreational sales.

Councilor Linda Henderson said her biggest concern was whether early sales would include so-called “edibles” and how they would be regulated. However, Soper said edibles — essentially THC-infused products such as candies and drinks — would not be available immediately.

Meanwhile, Sherri Ralston, who plans on opening a medical marijuana facility on Tualatin-Sherwood Road, said she expects the business to open in mid-November. It will operate out of a renovated 2,896-square-foot house at 15025 Tualatin-Sherwood Road, directly across the street from the DEQ vehicle emission testing station. However, Ralston said she might open a similar medical marijuana dispensary in Newberg sooner.

Currently, Ralston said she receives 12 to 15 calls a day asking about the purchase of marijuana for recreational use.

“I tell them I have no idea if we’re going to go recreational or not,” she said.

Ralston said while she has experience in business, this is her first venture into a recreational marijuana facility. While she said she does think her business would be busy if she also offered recreational marijuana she didn’t know if it would cause traffic concerns.

Ralston said the problem is that three-quarters of the current medical marijuana dispensaries are located on the east side of Portland so there is a demand on the west side.

Since no votes or decisions can be made at a work session, the council will consider the question of whether to allow early recreational marijuana sales at a future meeting, possibly as early as Sept. 15. When it is discussed, public comments will be accepted.

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