Medical now, recreational to follow in Seaside

A billboard warning of the consequences of driving under the influence in Seaside.

SEASIDE — Last fall, Seaside city councilors faced “the inevitable” when they approved business licenses for medical dispensaries, including Highway 420 and Cannabis Nation. Both businesses are regulated by the Oregon Health Authority.

On Monday, councilors took a step to clarify rules for recreational sales, which are regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and unlikely to open until later this year. The new rules will implement similar requirements as in the dispensary ordinance.

“It will effectively limit the number of businesses you can have, and it would also adopt the same restrictions in the downtown core area that apply to medical marijuana,” Planning Director Kevin Cupples said.

Without a recreational marijuana licensing ordinance in place, Cupples said the city could be challenged and drawn into “protracted legal battles over whether or not it does or does not prohibit the activity.”

“Rather than being challenged, we decided to go straight to an ordinance and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be regulated,’ and go on in the same manner as we did the medical marijuana facilities: time, place, manner of licensing,” Cupples said.

The ordinance, which was supported by councilors unanimously, would subject retail sellers of marijuana to the same city rules that govern the medical market.

The rules require a 1,000-foot separation between sellers, and 1,000-foot distance from schools.

“What we’ve done is take the ordinance and changed the wording around enough so it will in fact recognize recreational,” Cupples said. “If the council deems it appropriate, the staff will look at the recreational grow facilities and processing facilities just as we have for medical in industrial zones.”

Highway 420 and Cannabis Nation are the only licensed dispensaries in Seaside.

Both have applied to the city for recreational sales permits, prompting the city to enact the rules to encompass recreational facilities, Cupples said.

The proposed ordinance will further limit the available locations for dispensaries or recreational sales.

Even with land-use boundaries, there may still be room for more dispensaries or retailers to open in Seaside.

“It’s going to be limited because you’re bound with what those circles are,” Cupples said. “Right now, there may be enough room to add another dispensary and/or recreational, depending on if this ordinance passes. Anything that meets all those provisions that is still zoned commercial.”

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