Marijuana in Ashland: What’s next?
The Ashland City Council has taken a number of steps to regulate the sale of medical marijuana in Ashland and has also agreed to impose a local tax on the sale of recreational marijuana should it be legalized by the voters in November. Here’s a summary of what Ashland has done to get its arms around the ever-changing world of marijuana legalization.
The City Council has adopted zoning restriction on where medical marijuana dispensaries may locate in Ashland. These restrictions are intended to keep dispensaries in areas that can handle high-traffic volume businesses and minimize impacts on residential neighborhoods. Under these restrictions, medical marijuana dispensaries must locate in commercial zones that front boulevards, but not in the downtown design overlay district. The streets in Ashland classified as “boulevards” are North Main Street, East Main Street, Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland Street and portions of Tolman Creek Road. Dispensaries may also locate in employment (mixed-use) zones if the dispensary is at least 200 feet from any residentially zoned property. (Click here to see Ashland’s zoning map.)
Because state law requires that dispensaries be located at least 1,000 feet apart from each other and at least 1,000 feet from any public or private elementary or secondary school, these zoning restrictions will have the effect of allowing dispensaries in Ashland, but limiting their total number. These restrictions do not apply to retail marijuana outlets that may be legal in Oregon after the November election. Since the City doesn’t know what, if any, restriction the state will place on those outlets, any regulation regarding them will have to be dealt with separately.
Time, Place and Manner restrictions
State law allows cities to adopt time, place and manner restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries. On August 5th, Ashland became one of the first, if not the first, city in Oregon to adopt such restrictions. The restrictions are not intended to prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in Ashland, but only to ensure that dispensaries do not have undue effects on their neighbors. Here are the key features of the city’s restrictions:
1. Medical marijuana dispensaries must acquire a local permit and provide proof that dispensary has been licensed by the state. The permit application requires a description of the location of the dispensary, the nature of the operation, the accounting and inventory control systems to be used by the dispensary, and the names and addresses of individuals with a financial interest in the dispensary. The permit must be renewed annually.
2. The dispensary must have a City business license and meet all City land-use, building and fire codes.
3. Dispensaries may not produce any extracts, oils, resins or other derivatives on-site. Marijuana and marijuana infused products cannot be used on-site.
4. Operating hours are limited to no earlier than 9 a.m. to no later than 7 p.m.
5. Dispensaries must utilize air filtration and ventilation systems to confine objectionable odors.
6. Anyone convicted of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance once or more in the previous five years or twice or more in the person’s lifetime cannot be an operator or employee of a dispensary or have a financial interest in the dispensary.
This is not a complete list. Click here to see the full text of the time, place and manner ordinance.
Ashland has adopted an ordinance that allows the City to tax the sale of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. The tax is a “gross receipts” tax, which is functionally similar to a sales tax, except that the business is responsible for paying the tax, not the customer. The business has the option of passing the tax through to the customer as a separate charge or absorbing it in the cost of whatever product is being sold. (Click here to see the ordinance.)
The ordinance stipulates that the Council will establish the tax rates by a separate resolution. On August 19th, the Council adopted a resolution that establishes the tax rate at 0% for medical marijuana and 10% for recreational marijuana, should it be legalized by Oregon voters in November. The tax would apply to any state-licensed retailer of marijuana in Ashland. The ballot measure prohibits local taxes, however the City believes that our tax would be grandfathered in because it was adopted prior to the effective date of the measure.