The Ashland City Council has approved taxing medical and recreational marijuana and has adopted regulations governing the location and operations of medical marijuana dispensaries.
The council on Tuesday authorized a tax of up to 5 percent on sales of medical marijuana, plus a tax of up to 10 percent on recreational marijuana sales. Councilors will set specific tax rates at a future meeting.
"We need to do this to position our community smartly," Councilor Rich Rosenthal said.
Oregon voters are likely to see a recreational marijuana legalization measure on the November ballot. The state previously legalized medical marijuana dispensaries as long as they meet a host of state regulations. Cities are allowed to impose additional regulations of their own.
A proposed recreational marijuana legalization measure would bar cities from imposing their own taxes, but City Administrator Dave Kanner said it's not clear the ban would apply to cities that adopted taxes before the measure took effect — assuming Oregon voters approve the measure.
Councilors also voted to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to locate on certain sections of Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland Street and Main Street with a special use permit. They will not be allowed downtown.
Dispensaries also will be allowed in employment and commercial zones if they are at least 200 feet away from residential zones and go through a more rigorous conditional-use permit process.
Dozens of neighbors in the Williamson Way area had advocated a 300-foot residential buffer.
Voicing anger and frustration, many neighbors stormed out of Tuesday's council meeting once it became clear councilors favored the smaller, 200-foot buffer.
In advocating for the larger buffer, Williamson Way resident David Helmich said it would protect residents on several neighborhood streets from the extra traffic drawn to dispensaries. He said dispensaries could create 80 to 200 additional vehicle trips per day.
Neighbors said narrow, winding Williamson Way cannot safely handle added traffic and has a limited number of parking bays.
Two medical marijuana dispensaries have obtained provisional licenses from the state to operate. One on Williamson Way will not be able to open because it directly borders homes.
Another is planned for Clear Creek Drive and appears able to meet the residential buffer zone regulation.
Puff's Smoke Shop on Ashland Street had operated a medical marijuana dispensary inside its tobacco store before applying for a state license. Its license application was denied and the dispensary shut down.
Ashland put a medical marijuana moratorium in place while it worked out its own regulations.
At their July 15 meeting, councilors are scheduled to decide whether to lift Ashland's moratorium.
Councilors adopted a host of other regulations on dispensaries on Tuesday night. They include:
State laws include that dispensaries have security systems and not be located within 1,000 feet of each other or schools.