Ban would run through May 2015

The city of Tigard is expected to approve a plan next week that would extend its moratorium against medical marijuana dispensaries from opening inside city limits.

In February, the City Council approved a ban on dispensaries until the end of the year, saying it needed to wait and hear from the state Legislature about what regulations the city could impose on medical marijuana retail shops throuh Senate Bill 1315.

The ban is currently set to be lifted at the end of the year, but the council said in a work session on Monday that the city would need more time to study the issue, likely until May 2015, given the likelihood of a public vote on medical marijuana use in November and additional rules from the Legislature, when it resumes in 2015.

Senate Bill 1531 allows cities to impose “reasonable regulations” against marijuana facilities, including limiting hours of operation, where they may be located and conditions on how facilities can dispense the drug.

“We can’t sit around and wait for November and wait for May,” said Mayor John L. Cook. “What’s plan B? Over the next few months, we need to start talking about time, place and manner (for dispensaries).”

The short Legislative session in February tackled only part of the issue, Cook said.

“I have a feeling this will come back in the full session (next year), and they will rehash the whole thing,” Cook said. “We expect that to happen, so if we go off Jan. 1 (after the current ban ends) and a month later they come up with a new rule, things could happen in that 30-day period that we may not like.”

City Councilor Jason Snider said the city should have a plan in place by May, so that dispenaries can begin applying for licenses as quickly as possible.

“This was a stopgap for us to get our act together, so if we pass this, we need to start getting our act together,” Snider said. “That would be indefensible not to, that’s 13 months from now.”

The city is no stranger to dispensaries. In 2010, the city was home to The Human Collective, which operated on Pacific Highway until it was shut down by the county in 2012.

The shop has since moved to Barbur Boulevard in neighboring Multnomah County.

The Human Collective operated in a legal gray area, but medical marijuana retail shops became legal in Oregon in March. Several cities, including Tualatin, Sherwood, Hillsboro and Beaverton, as well as Washington County, have passed ordinances banning dispensaries from setting up shop.

Tigard city councilors said the ban isn’t a statement against medical marijuana. Planners need more time to determine the proper way to regulate the industry, said Cook, namely setting up rules for where and when businesses could operate.

John Floyd, a Tigard associate planner, said that based on current limitations, much of the city would be off-limits to dispensaries.

“Most of Pacific Highway is off limits because (they are close) to schools like St. Anthony, and most of downtown is off-limits,” he said.

Floyd said the largest piece of land that dispensaries could realistically locate is between Highway 217 and Interstate 5.

Floyd said the city could support as many as 10 to 12 facilities, assuming land lords in the allowable areas are willing to let dispensaries lease space.

The City Council is expected to vote on the issue at its April 22 meeting.

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