Medical marijuana resolution clarified

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By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Wait, what was that you said?

And no, the haze had nothing to do with the subject matter.

Instead, it was the question city staff had March 4, about decisions made by councilors the night before at the Keizer City Council meeting regarding medical marijuana facilities. A motion to establish a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities in Keizer failed by a 4-2 vote, but a task force to look into the issue was approved, leading to some confusion.

As such, the subject was brought up again during an already-scheduled special meeting on Thursday, March 6.

City manager Chris Eppley acknowledged it was his decision to bring the topic up again.

“What the council did didn’t make sense to us,” Eppley said. “We wanted clarification as to what you meant by telling us to do a task force, but not giving transition time for the work to be done. Two ways make sense: either no moratorium, in which case you forget a task force developing regulations and won’t be able to change regulations; or develop a task force and give it time for work to be done. Those things made sense. No time but a task force made no sense.”

City attorney Shannon Johnson had a suggestion for councilors.

“It’s much cleaner and simpler if there’s a period of time for us to develop the regulations,” Johnson said. “But that’s purely a policy matter for council…The option you picked Monday night was not something we would recommend. But if that’s your policy, we’re okay with that.”

Perhaps okay, but for sure confused.

“It doesn’t happen very often that we look at each other the next day and are stumped,” Eppley said. “In this case, we were stumped. We need some clarification.”

Nate Brown, the director of Community Development who expressed concern over the lack of direction from council at the end of the March 3 meeting, expanded on that.

“Basically, the discussions that we had were to identify what council really had intended,” Brown said. “Like Chris said, we’re trying to get some specific direction.”

Johnson’s revised resolution for last Thursday’s special meeting called for the prohibition on siting of medical marijuana facilities to be in effect for 150 days, as opposed to the 60 days proposed earlier.

“I would strongly recommend if the council wants to go forward with the transition period, to not do it for less than 150 days,” Johnson said. “Given the current (state) legislation, there will be an argument you won’t be able to extend this. In other words, you can’t say make it 90 days, then extend it. I don’t think you will be able to do that.”

Councilor Cathy Clark liked the update.

“Part of my concern with the language from Monday was the impact on facilities,” Clark said. “I appreciate the clarity in this now. Allowing the time to have a reasonable conversation won’t hurt.”

Councilor Jim Taylor also liked the clarification.

“I appreciate another chance to look at this,” Taylor said. “The other night we didn’t have the information. It’s very courageous for some people to say let’s look at it again.”

With that, the motion was approved by a 5-1 vote, with councilor Dennis Koho voting against it.

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