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Grants Pass bans outdoor pot grows

Grants Pass Daily Courier

Grants Pass residents are now banned from growing recreational marijuana outdoors, and effective Jan. 1, not even medical marijuana can be cultivated outdoors within the city limits.

The City Council Wednesday night voted 6-0 to pass the ordinance, which had been continued from two weeks ago when the second reading was held up because there was not a unanimous vote.

Councilors Roy Lindsay, Jim Goodwin, Dennis Roler, Mark Gatlin, Ken Hannum and Rick Riker voted yes. Council President Dan DeYoung abstained. Councilor Lily Morgan was absent.

Gatlin, Hannum and Riker reversed their positions from two weeks ago.

DeYoung, who voted for the ordinance two weeks ago, said he decided to abstain this time around "for a very personal reason," but declined to elaborate.

Measure 91, a statewide voter-approved initiative that took effect July 1, allows personal possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for anyone over 21 and up to 8 ounces at home.

It also allows private cultivation of up to four marijuana plants for recreational use per residence. However, the new law does not specify in what way — indoors or outdoors — pot may be grown.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 1998. Under that law, a citizen with a medical marijuana card can grow up to six plants.

Several members of the audience were upset that no public testimony was taken prior to the vote. However, when the issue was continued two weeks ago, Mayor Darin Fowler announced there would be no additional testimony allowed because the public comment portion had closed at the first meeting.

After the meeting, City Attorney Mark Bartholomew pointed out that under Oregon public meeting laws the council was not required to take any public comment on the issue.

It was not immediately clear how many cities have taken a similar stance on outdoor cultivation. The city also has banned medical marijuana dispensaries. There are at least five in the county, however.

Under a new state law approved by the state Legislature, dispensaries will be allowed to sell retail marijuana starting Oct. 1.