November 6, 2013

Local Oregon Governments Cannot Regulate Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

November 6, 2013
oregon house bill hb 3460 medical marijuana dispensaries ommp

oregon house bill hb 3460 medical marijuana dispensaries ommpThe State of Oregon’s Legislative Counsel Committee issued a letter yesterday, which stated that only the State of Oregon can regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, not local municipalities. The letter came after cities in Oregon started attempts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries altogether, namely Medford. The letter stated:

“we conclude that while a municipality may not be required to violate federal law to comply with a conflicting state law, a municipality may not act contrary to state law merely because the municipality believes that the action will better carry out the purposes and objectives of federal law.”

Oregon has a long history when it comes to zoning and ordinances. For instance, the town where I went to college, Monmouth, didn’t allow alcohol sales for decades. There are ordinances in my hometown that don’t allow loitering on public streets during certain hours. There’s even a ‘prostitute ordinance’ in Salem that doesn’t allow known/convicted prostitutes to walk thru certain parts of town unless they are on their way to or from an emergency, or to or from work (prostitution work not accepted!).

So it was very interesting to see the letter give the recommendation that it did. After all, we seem to love ordinances and zoning rules in Oregon. However, some of the legal reasoning behind the recommendation was very unique. According to The Oregonian:

“The state’s new so-called GMO law, which allows only the state to regulate plant seeds, factored into Taylor’s analysis. The law, which wasn’t aimed at cannabis production and sales, prohibits local governments from regulating commercial plant seeds and products.”

So while some local ordinances and zoning laws are OK, anything that has to do with plant seeds and plant products are not OK. Medical marijuana dispensaries are here to stay in Oregon, regardless of what reefer madness supporters say or think. I really wish the leaders of cities like Medford would realize this and focus their efforts towards fighting violent crime rather than constantly trying to attack medical marijuana patient’s rights.


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