In this year's abbreviated legislative session the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee did the right thing when it stripped out a provision that would have allowed cities and counties to ban medical marijuana dispensaries altogether.
(The 2013 Legislature authorized dispensaries, which previously operated in a grey area, and possibly illegally.)
But today the House Judiciary Committee voted to put the ability-to-ban back into the bill. The Weed Blog notes the absurdity here:
If a ban does ultimately pass, something very ironic to me will happen. Dispensaries had very little enforcement when they were illegal. However, it will only be after they become officially legal that they might be shut down. I think certain counties will be OK, such as Multnomah County. But counties like Jackson County, Clatsop County, Marion County, and some others might not be so lucky. I guess only time will tell.
There are other reasons to call this a stupid idea.
Notably, it is a solution in search of a problem. Where is the need for cities and counties to ban medical marijuana dispensaries?
Alcohol is way more dangerous than marijuana. Yet liquor stores and bars abound. Alcohol is sold in businesses frequented by children and teenagers. Why don't Oregon cities and counties ban the sale of alcohol?
Oh, almost forgot. Monmouth did. Then decided it was a stupid idea.
Same is true of bans on medical marijuana dispensaries. A University of Colorado study found that they cause no more problems than coffee shops do.
A medical marijuana dispensary in the Denver area doesn't have any more impact on its neighborhood than does a coffee shop or a drugstore, according to a recent study released by the University of Colorado Denver. Not only that, but residents don't perceive a dispensary as an undesirable use of a storefront.
These findings counter the constant negative messages coming from law enforcement and anti-cannabis crusaders.
So the only reason a city or county would choose to ban medical marijiuana dispensaries is because some elected officials don't like people using marijuana. Yet medical marijiuana is legal in Oregon. And recreational marijuana use may soon be.
It's crazy to make a cancer patient on chemotherapy who has been prescribed medical marijuana drive a long distance to get to a dispensary. After all, the 2013 Legislature legalized dispensaries in the entire state.
Why allow certain cities and counties to opt out of a statewide law? Recently there was an attempt to do this with the ban on hunting cougars with dogs. Twice Oregon voters approved the ban. But some legislators introduced a bill that would have allowed counties to opt out of the law.
I submitted testimony against the bill that said this would set a horrible precedent. If every city and county can decide whether it wants to follow a statewide law, we'll end up with a confusing legal balkanization.
There's no reason to allow Oregon cities and counties to ban something that is legal in this state. I have no idea, none at all, why the House Judiciary Committee voted to allow this. Hopefully the provision will be stripped out again.
If not, the Senate should vote the bill down. And the Governor should veto it, should a bill allowing a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries somehow pass both the state House and Senate.