The Seaside City Council decided they can’t fight the state when it comes to recreational marijuana.
“You passed an ordinance that allows medical marijuana dispensaries,” City Manager Mark Winstanley said at Monday night’s council meeting. “The state of Oregon has allowed recreational sales to be sold Oct. 1 from medical marijuana dispensaries. Does the city want to take action to stop that, or do you simply want to stand back and let that go into place?”
“We could either stop it right now, or see how it evolves in the next 14, 15, 16 months,” City Attorney Dan Van Thiel said.
By the end of the night, councilors chose the latter.
Last week, Seaside Planning Director Kevin Cupples approved the sale of recreational cannabis from licensed medical dispensaries, including Highway 420 and Cannabis Nation.
In granting the licenses, Cupples asked for “any direction from the council” in the city’s regulatory policy.
Councilors, several of whom had recently returned from the League of Oregon Cities in Bend, showed little appetite for revisiting the issue.
“In Bend and other cities they are not doing any other action,” City Councilor Randy Frank said. “It would actually take us effort to say ‘no.’”
Currently, Seaside prohibits the sale of medical marijuana in the city’s downtown core. Cannabis dispensaries are subject to state rules.
City Councilor Dana Phillips, who also attended the League of Cities event, said she was concerned that the city needed to take action to prohibit dispensary zoning restrictions.
“I want to make sure medical and recreational are not available in the downtown city core,” Phillips said. “The medical is but we haven’t talked about the recreational part.”
City Councilor Tita Montero said she was distressed by the state’s rule changes, lack of organization and staff, and the potential for future rule changes that could limit local rule-making. “I want us to enact something that says we will not have recreational cannabis in our town until everything is pulled together in January 2017,” she said.
Councilors Jay Barber, Don Johnson and Seth Morrisey were inclined to let the law take its course.
“It appears to me that we’ve been preempted by the state in terms of their action,” Barber said. “I’m thinking we use the next 15 months as a period of work to determine what we want to do in terms of where we want recreational marijuana to be sold, what we can do to limit that. Until then I wonder if we really have the right or privilege to say ‘no.’”
“I look at the inevitable,” Johnson said. “It’s time for us to let the marijuana issue go and see how it develops. If it becomes an issue, we can look again at it at a later date. The sale of recreational marijuana is coming. It’s starting Oct. 1.”
While councilors acknowledged they “didn’t like the process,” they agreed that the law had passed overwhelmingly at the city and state level.
“There’s not a consenus, so let’s move on to the next item,” Mayor Don Larson said.