MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
January 21, 2014
1175 E. Main Street
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC Chapter 6.04, Business Licenses”
City Administrator Dave Kanner clarified the City did not have a medical marijuana license code, did not issue medical marijuana licenses and were not proposing to issue medical marijuana licenses. Medical marijuana dispensaries were legal under state law but still illegal under federal law. Current language in Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 6.04 Business Licenses would not allow the City to issue a business license to a medical marijuana dispensary. The proposed amendment would remove the following language from 6.04.100 Issuance of License, “If the city has knowledge that the applicant is engaging in, or proposes to engage in an unlawful activity, the City shall return the fee to the applicant, along with the reason for so doing, and shall refuse to issue a license,” and add “Issuance of a business license shall not preclude enforcement against the license of any City ordinance, state statute, federal law or any other applicable law.” This would allow the City to issue a business license to any business that applied. The fact that someone had a business license did not make his or her business legal. They still had to comply with all state and federal laws. Without the regulatory provision in the code, it would become a registry of who was conducting business in the city as well as raise revenue for the General Fund.
Staff requested direction regarding zoning and suggested Council consider prohibiting dispensaries in the C-1D, downtown zone and any E-1 zone with a residential overlay on it. City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the state issued temporary Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs) effective March 1, 2014 when the statute went into effect. Permanent rules would be issued later and it was unknown at this time what changes might be made.
Mr. Lohman added the federal government was interpreting “Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors” to mean they would go after a dispensary within 1,000 feet of any place where minors tended to congregate and that might include libraries.
Bill Ericson/147 Blue Heron Lane/Explained he was a cancer patient with terminal cancer and wanted free and safe access to marijuana. He was looking at opening a dispensary himself and understood the intention of the state to make marijuana accessible to patients while keeping it away from kids. One problem was getting a business license in Ashland to conduct business. He encouraged Council to look at patient needs and explained how marijuana was the only drug that had worked for his cancer treatment.
Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to refer the issue of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Ashland to the Planning Commission for review and recommendations in regards to the Land Use Code. DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse explained business licenses were not regulatory and the zoning needed more discussion. It was incumbent on Council to abide state law, protect the community, and ensure proper use of legal dispensaries. Councilor Slattery agreed Council needed to know the exceptions, any zoning issues as well as protect people investing in a dispensary. Councilor Rosenthal questioned forwarding the issue to the Planning Commission and thought it should stay with Council. Mayor Stromberg clarified changes to the Land Use Ordinance had to go through the Planning Commission. Councilor Lemhouse added it was important to look at the long-term regarding future changes to state law and have a solid plan. Councilor Voisin thought Mr. Kanner was asking for direction not a full decision. This was a Council issue and she preferred not forwarding it to the Planning Commission. Councilor Marsh noted the Planning Commission would have to look at it at some point. The Commission would be able to focus on the zoning, set aside the other issues, and provide Council with the best land use recommendations. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Lemhouse, Marsh, Rosenthal, and Morris, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Councilor Slattery/Marsh m/s to approve First Reading of an ordinance by title only and place it on the agenda for Second Reading. DISCUSSION: Councilor Slattery thought the motion complied with state law and aligned the business code. Councilor Marsh explained a clerk should not have to determine the legal nature of a business. People with an illegal business most likely would test the law or the City’s commitment to the law. Decisions regarding those actions were better calculated by the police, city attorneys, and elected officials. Councilor Lemhouse added the motion aligned city code to state law and would ensure compliance, whether an individual supported medical marijuana dispensaries or not.
Councilor Morris noted Council earlier specified business licenses were a registry and not regulatory, the motion would clarify that. Councilor Voisin added it was an important correction and took the burden off staff. Councilor Rosenthal observed it was 15 years since the law passed, and had taken the state this long to regulate it as business. The motion reconciled local codes. Mayor Stromberg explained medical marijuana when properly regulated was a helpful and humane thing to do. Full decriminalization of marijuana could occur eventually. How the City handled it appropriately, fairly, and preserved public safety would make the difference. Roll Call: Councilor Marsh, Voisin, Rosenthal, Morris, Lemhouse, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Lemhouse announced an event the following night January 22, 2014 at the First Presbyterian Church from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. on human trafficking in the Rogue Valley.
Meeting adjourned at 8:11 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor