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Medical marijuana dispensaries won't be allowed within Dallas

DALLAS — Oregon Health Authority will not begin taking applications to establish medical marijuana dispensaries until March 3, but some cities — including Dallas — have already taken a stance on the issue.

The city of Dallas is basing its policy to not allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city on the federal prohibition on medical use of the drug.

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The city of Dallas is basing its policy to not allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city on the federal prohibition on medical use of the drug.

January 21, 2014

DALLAS — Oregon Health Authority will not begin taking applications to establish medical marijuana dispensaries until March 3, but some cities — including Dallas — have already taken a stance on the issue.

In July, the State Legislature passed House Bill 3460, making dispensaries legal. Prior to that, those with medical marijuana cards would either have to grow their own marijuana or find someone who would do it for them.

State-registered dispensaries would be allowed to legally sell marijuana to cardholders.

However, many local governments feel there is some leeway in the law, particularly given that marijuana for medical use still violates federal law.

The city of Dallas sees it that way. It will not allow dispensaries to operate — or rather wouldn't approve permits for zoning changes or building improvements required to open such a facility — using federal law as its basis.

"The official policy going forward that anyone applying for a zoning change or tenant improvement will (have to) follow all city, state and federal regulations," City Manager Ron Foggin said. "Currently, federal law prohibits medical marijuana."

Foggin said that will be the city's policy until federal lawmakers lift the prohibition on medical marijuana.

As of Monday, the city has received only preliminary inquiries about opening dispensaries within city limits, Foggin said.

Other cities have made similar decisions and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), which will oversee the application process, stated it doesn't have the authority to tell them otherwise.

"Whether a local government can legally prohibit the operation of a medical marijuana facility within its jurisdiction is a legal matter that may be resolved by the Legislature or the courts," read an OHA statement on the local governance issue.

OHA issued its temporary final rules on Jan. 15, which will govern applications accepted in March. The rules ban dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of a school or 1,000 feet of another dispensary.

Registered facilities can only be located in commercial, industrial or agricultural zones, and people convicted of manufacture or delivery of a schedule I or II substance would not be allowed to operate a dispensary.