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UPDATED: Senate drops plan for local bans on pot dispensaries

5:40 p.m. An effort in the state Senate to give cities such as Medford the authority to ban medical marijuana dispensaries appeared to die in committee today.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said he would amend SB 1531 to provide greater clarity about what regulations cities could impose on marijuana dispensaries but would remove the option for bans.

“They would not be able to outright ban them,” said Prozanski, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Prozanski presided over a hearing today on the Senate bill.

House Bill 3460, which takes effect March 3, created regulations for establishing medical marijuana dispensaries, and there have been disputes among the cities and the bill's sponsors over whether it allows cities to enact local bans.

State Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, maintains that cities cannot ban dispensaries under House Bill 3460 or under Senate Bill 863, a state law regarding genetically modified organisms.

Rob Bovett, attorney for the Association of Oregon Counties, said cities want the ability to ban dispensaries because of the fear that HB 3460 would allow more access to marijuana.

“We're about to roll out the most unregulated medical marijuana dispensary system in the nation,” he said.

Bovett said most municipal lawyers believe HB 3460 doesn't prevent cities from banning dispensaries. However, he said, Senate Bill 363 — the bill that prohibits local bans on GMOs — unintentionally could take away the rights of cities over local ordinances.

Bovett said language in Senate Bill 363 could set the stage for litigation that would undermine the original Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in federal courts.

Bovett said it appears that Senate Bill 1531 wouldn't survive in its original form after today's hearing.

10:25 a.m. A Senate hearing is underway to discuss a bill that would allow local cities such as Medford to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Association of Oregon Counties and other organizations have pushed for the adoption of Senate Bill 1531 to give local control to counter House Bill 3460, which allows medical marijuana dispensaries to begin operating after March 3.

A Senate hearing is being held this morning on Senate Bill 1531, which is supported by the League of Oregon Cities, the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Forest Industries Council, the Oregon District Attorneys Association and the Oregon Association of Realtors.

Medford enacted an ordinance last September that would effectively ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Ashland recently enacted an ordinance that would pave the way for dispensaries.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, has previously stated that cities cannot ban dispensaries under House Bill 3460.

— Damian Mann