Medical marijuana dispensaries OK'd

Monmouth will allow businesses

MONMOUTH — Medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in Monmouth once the moratorium placed on March 4, 2014, lapses in May.

Exactly what a dispensary will look like — where it will be allowed to locate — remains undetermined.

The Monmouth City Council discussed the issue at its Jan. 6 work session. Four councilors spoke in favor of letting dispensaries — and potential recreational marijuana sellers next year — operate based on state law, with little city code attached.

While no councilors spoke strongly against dispensaries, some had more concerns about regulation than others.

Where a medical marijuana dispensary may locate is outlined in state law. One of the requirements is a dispensary may not be within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, or within 1,000 feet of another dispensary.

Councilman Jon Carey said medical marijuana has been approved by voters, and should be accessible for Monmouth citizens within the city boundaries.

Mayor John Oberst agreed, but wanted the council to consider adding restrictions on dispensaries — and perhaps future recreational marijuana shops — in downtown on Main Street.

Councilman Darin Silbernagel said he would not like to see marijuana on the boundaries of Western Oregon University. He also works as the director of business services for WOU.

“We don’t want them across the street from the park, either,” said Silbernagel. “There are some things we want to have some criteria around.”

Councilman Marshall Guthrie disagreed.

“What’s the difference between coming out of the minimart with a six pack versus coming out of a dispensary with a brown paper bag?” he asked. “It’s not like they can pull it out (and smoke marijuana) at our bluegrass concert (in Main Street Park).”

Monmouth will be the second city in Polk County to allow dispensaries. Dallas and Falls City banned them through language in code that requires businesses to meet state and federal law. The federal government does not recognize legal medical or recreational marijuana use.

In other business:

• Mayor John Oberst and councilmen Marshall Guthrie, Royal Johnson and Jon Carey were sworn into office. Each was elected or re-elected during the November general election.

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