By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The Keizer City Council is following the lead of others in regards to a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities within city limits.
At a Monday meeting, councilors unanimously agreed to extend the moratorium from its original Aug. 6 date to May 1, 2015. That date is the outside date allowed under the recently passed Senate Bill 1531.
The Medical Marijuana Facilities Regulations Task Force established to look at the topic is still set to end May 6 of this year, with a report due to council before that.
Dennis Koho is the councilor chairing that task force, which is scheduled to have public hearings on April 22 and 29.
Cities and counties around Oregon have been trying to figure out how to deal with the topic in recent weeks, with the scramble set in motion both by House Bill 3460 last year and SB 1531 earlier this year.
“I know we’re all happy to revisit the matter,” city attorney Shannon Johnson quipped on Monday. “We could not anticipate the state legislature would decide a moratorium needed to be by ordinance. The only substantive question is to give the opportunity if you want to look at the timing. Most cities are giving themselves a whole year (for the moratorium). After this May 1, I have serious concerns about you being able to move the time back.”
Originally the Keizer City Council passed a resolution calling for the moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries until August. The task force was subsequently established to give councilors additional guidance.
“So we could say let’s do a year like everyone else, but if the task force says do it earlier, we can,” mayor Lore Christopher said. “What is the downside to doing the whole year?”
“I don’t think it would be a problem,” Johnson replied.
Koho noted an issue.
“May 1 of this year is the deadline for the task force to report to council,” Koho said. “It seems silly we said no moratorium (past Aug. 6) at first. Now we’re saying a year; but the task force is supposed to report a year before that.”
Johnson noted the May 1, 2015 date could be moved up if that’s the task force’s recommendation.
Councilor Cathy Clark liked the extended timeline.
“The task force will do its due diligence,” she said. “Other cities are doing the same research and asking the same questions. This is an opportunity to learn from each other.”
Christopher and councilor Jim Taylor suggested going with the extended timeline.
“We’ll probably do it sooner, but there’s no reason to paint ourselves in a box,” Taylor said.
Councilors approved the extended moratorium and repealed the previous resolution.