Oregon House panel OKs temporary pot dispensary bans

Oregon House panel OKs temporary pot dispensary bans
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SALEM, Ore. (AP) - A state House committee has approved a compromise measure that would allow Oregon communities to ban medical marijuana facilities, but only temporarily.
    
The bill cleared the Rules Committee on Tuesday. It would allow cities and counties to control things like the hours and locations of the medical pot outlets. Local governments that don't want the facilities would be able to ban them until May 2015.
    
The cities and counties originally wanted permanent authority to ban pot stores. House Democrats said the changes were a compromise designed to help the measure pass the Senate. They said legislators from both chambers have also committed to reviewing the issue of local control over medical marijuana facilities and may revisit it again in 2015.
    
Allowing a temporary ban gives the communities "breathing room" to prohibit the new pot outlets while they decide how they want to go forward with regulating them, said Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, the committee's vice chairman.
    
The measure also gives dispensary owners who have paid the $4,000 fee to register their pot businesses an option to get a refund if their location becomes subject to a local ban. The state's pot dispensary registration website, which went live Monday, has already received nearly 300 applications.
    
A lobbyist for the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police said the organization wanted the original bill with a permanent ban but recognized the need to compromise.
    
Craig Honeyman, a spokesman for the League of Oregon Cities told the panel he still wanted the original version of the bill and could not say whether the league supported the compromise.
    
But House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, told Honeyman said the original bill faced unlikely odds, and his choices were "this or likely nothing."
    
The bill goes next to the full House for a vote. Republicans say they will continue to push for a bill that allows permanent bans and may force a floor vote on the issue.
    
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Reach reporter Chad Garland at http://www.twitter.com/chadgarland.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Original story ...

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Democrats in the Oregon House said they were working on a compromise to move forward a bill that gives cities and counties authority to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders. In a close vote on the House floor Tuesday, they moved the bill to a House committee for further work.
   
Republicans balked at what they say is yet another delay on a bill that has been lingering too long in the Legislature, leaving open questions about how far local governments can go in regulating medical pot outlets.
   
The House measure would allow communities to ban the medical marijuana facilities outright, but a Senate version did not go as far, allowing them only to regulate things such as hours and locations. The Legislature last year passed a bill approving the medical pot stores, but several communities want the right to keep them from setting up shop.
   
Democrats moved the bill into the House Rules Committee for further work instead of voting on whether to send it to the Senate, where they say it faces an uncertain outcome.
   
Salem Democrat Rep. Brian Clem, who supports giving local authorities permission to ban dispensaries, said a compromise under discussion would allow communities to ban medical pot stores for 15 months. That would give the Legislature more time to reconsider next year, when lawmakers will be in Salem for five months and have more time to deliberate.
   
He said a compromise would involve giving dispensary owners who have paid the $4,000 fee to register their pot businesses an option to get a refund if their location becomes subject to a local ban.
   
"You don't want to move the goal posts on this too far," Clem said.
   
He said he expected the bill to move quickly through the House Rules Committee as it would need to be on "a pretty fast track" to gain passage in both chambers before the end of the legislative session later this week.
   
The move comes a day after the state's pot dispensary registration website received 289 applications on its first day.
   
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Reach reporter Chad Garland on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/chadgarland

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)