Oregon Cannabis Connection
The Medford City Council today voted to send two different questions to the ballot November 8th on whether to allow marijuana cultivation in the city, both medical and recreational. One measure would ban only outdoor growing in residential zones, the other would ban all growing in the cities neighborhoods.
Often impassioned testimony was given by patients and growers concerned about the cities decision to move ahead with a referral in November.
“There are growers in this area that are treating patients with CBD oil, RSO, Tinctures, and when you shut this down, they won’t have a grower and they don’t have a dispensary to get these products from,” explained Sandy Diesel of Right To Grow, USA. “I just want you to think about that for a moment, because it really is a public health crisis when a patient doesn’t have access to their medicine.”
“A ban on grows in Medford will hurt more people than it helps,” explained Mandy Valencia, a local patient and periodic grower. “This is a Lose/Lose situation, and I really hope you can clearly see that.”
“A ban on the ballot, incites conflict. This will bring a legal battle, that no one wants,” Valencia said, in reference to the feeling by many that the ban is not legal and oversteps the cities jurisdiction.
Councilman Kevin Stine told Valencia, “It’s going to be on the ballot that’s the compromise, even though I won’t vote for it and I’m not for the ban.”
“I would not support this motion, it’s a complete waste of resources; as we have been told, we will get sued; and I am under the opinion that people do have the right to grow their own medicine in their back yard.” said Councilman Clay Bearnson, co-owner of Oregon Farmacy dispensary which recently opened in downtown Medford.
Bearnson abstained from the vote, although he is vehemently against the ban, due to his conflict of interest being a marijuana businessman.
Councilman Chris Corcoran supported Bearnson’s participation in the discussion, explaining, “I have heard Clay consistently argue that these ordinances should not be on the ballot…when in fact Mr. Bearnson would profit from such a ban.”
Comparing the patients who spoke to abortion and gun rights activists, the city Deputy Attorney Kevin McConnell told the Council, “One of the things about being an advocate, whether it’s abortion or gun rights, or whatever it is, sometimes people don’t want to accept the reasonable arguments of the other side.”
“What happens, say, this does get sent to the voters and they do not want to ban cultivation in residential zoned areas of Medford, what happens then? Do we conform it to follow a parallel with state law, because state law allows 12 plants in residential zoned areas, or are we going to stick with this four plant limit that’s currently on the books right now.”
“What is on the books right now is the four plants and that would stay in effect,” explained McConnell. “If the council wants to revisit that it certainly can at some future time.”
So, even if this ordinance passes, the limit per household will be four plants…medical grower or not. Recreational growers will have the same limit as sick patients. Patients who often spent 500 dollars, or more, to register with the state of Oregon to access their medicine tax free and grow often their own.
Problem is, they are not allowed to to that, according to many activists and attorneys. State law preempts the local ordinances affecting medical marijuana. A lawsuit is almost guaranteed if they move forward with any restrictions beyond what is sanctioned by the state.
“They cannot ban growing of medical marijuana, indoor or out,” Explain attorney Bradley Steinman of Green Business Law. “They can require it to not be in public view, but hey can’t ban it.”
“Under Senate Bill 863 (the GMO bill) in 2013 the State has preempted this for marijuana. The state law defines marijuana as a nursery stock, so state law preempts local jurisdiction,” Steinman explained further to Oregon Cannabis Connection. “They can only ban OLCC licensed production, but not basic medical grows, and Section 6 of Measure 91 protects the right to grow at home recreationally.”
So, vote by the people or not, they ban would be illegal. And, regardless, their current limit of four plants per household is also illegal, since a medical grower is allowed 12 plants at a home under state law.
In April, the council sent a referral to the voters to decide on whether to allow recreational retail sales in the city. They also sent another that provided for a tax of 3% on the retail sales if they decide to allow the businesses. All other OLCC and OMMP licensed businesses are allowed in the city with proper licensing and permits.
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