JACKSONVILLE — Medical marijuana dispensaries are banned in town, a unanimous City Council decided Tuesday.
"It was pretty clear for our City Council that we all felt that in our beautiful, historic town that it just didn't fit," said Council Chair David Jesser. "We voted to have a ban on dispensaries"
Two proposed ordinances were presented to the council for consideration. One would have placed a moratorium on dispensaries until May 1, 2015. The other banned dispensaries and also contained regulations on plant cultivation by qualified medical marijuana patients. The regulations on growers were dropped from the approved ordinance.
Jacksonville joins Medford in instituting an outright ban on the dispensaries, which were made legal by the 2013 Oregon Legislature.
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a measure saying cities and counties could institute temporary moratoriums — until May 15, 2015 — to allow time for jurisdictions to develop regulations covering the shops.
Jackson County and most other municipalities in the county have adopted moratoriums.
"Only time will tell if anything is going to change," said Jesser, when asked about the possibility of altering the ban.
Mayor Paul Becker also voted for the ban, which passed 7-0. Jacksonville allows its mayor to vote on motions. The ordinance was passed on an emergency basis, making it effective immediately.
"Marijuana dispensaries in city limits are a nuisance per se," states one subsection of the ordinance.
Only one member of the public, former mayor Clara Wendt, spoke on the issue during the meeting. Wendt opposed dispensaries.
"(The Council) has the authority to ban dispensaries under its inherent home rule authority. It doesn't have to have statutory authority to do that," said City Attorney Kurt Knudsen, who attended the session.
Knudsen drafted the ordinance, which cited the town's status as a National Historic Landmark and tourist attraction, the rights of Oregon cities to home rule, case law in California that upheld a city's right to ban dispensaries, and federal law that makes marijuana illegal.
"It gives support to the ideas to show that there's a wide basis," said Knudsen.
City Council will take up regulating cultivation at a later time, said Jesser.
Proposed rules for cultivation limited growing to indoor operations in single-family residential structures that are a person's primary residence or in secured accessory buildings. Grow areas could not exceed 82 square feet nor exceed 10 feet in height.
Under the proposal, limits were set on indoor lighting strength, fire walls were required and inspection of cultivation sites was allowed by city officials at all times.
"Several statutes in California address the situation in much detail," said Knudsen. "Why that hasn't come up as much in Oregon, I'm not sure."
Complaints about cultivation in both California and Oregon have centered on marijuana's odor, said Knudsen. There's also been concern about children seeing marijuana growing above fences, he added.
Some California cities restrict cultivation to indoor sites, sometimes in contained environments, Knudsen said.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.