Confused about whether medical marijuana dispensaries will be opening any time soon near you?
Join the club.
Even after last year’s Legislature approved the dispensaries — and even after the state started, earlier this month, to accept applications from people interested in opening one of the enterprises — there’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding what kinds of rules will govern the operations and what sort of power local governments have to regulate or even ban them.
It’s not even clear yet which of the five proposed dispensaries in Corvallis will be approved by the state; none appeared to be included in the first batch of licenses granted last week. (We can’t tell for sure, because the law allowing the dispensaries also allowed the establishments to keep their addresses confidential. Of the eight establishments licensed last week by the state, seven opted to waive that confidentiality, but one chose not to, so it could be in theory anywhere in the state.)
At least one of the five dispensaries proposed for Corvallis won’t make the cut: Two appear to be within 1,000 feet of each other, in violation of the law governing the dispensaries. In that case, the state likely would have to determine which one filed its application with the state first. Another proposed dispensary is within 1,000 feet of the CSC Youth House, a job skills program, and it’s not clear whether that meets the law’s definition of a school.
In general, clarity surrounding the dispensary program is in exceedingly short supply, and the effort in this year’s legislative session to help clear up matters frankly didn’t do much good. In fact, the session added another wild card: The measure that passed the Legislature allows a city or county to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the dispensaries and also allowed them to impose a one-year moratorium until May 1, 2015.
Governments around Oregon — but not, as far as we can tell, in Corvallis — jumped on the one-year moratorium, thinking that the delay at least would give the courts a chance to hash out the legalities of how local governments can choose to interpret (or ignore) the state law.
That’s a pretty good bet, considering that other Oregon communities such as Medford are moving forward with permanent bans, regardless of what the state says, and it seems certain that at least some of the folks who want to open the dispensaries have their lawyers standing by on speed dial.
In the meantime, we wait with interest to see how this all plays out, but it does leave us with one horrifying thought:
If this is the best we can do to roll out a change in the state’s medical marijuana program, imagine the confusion as we try to implement legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
An initiative calling for legalization seems a good bet to make the ballot this November — about the time we might start to have an initial glimmer about how this dispensary thing is working out.
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