The City of Sisters will likely ban the siting of medical marijuana dispensaries in town some time in the next couple of weeks. Due to the constraints of recent state law, such bans can only be temporary, sunsetting in May 2015.
The city council instructed staff to craft an ordinance prohibiting the siting of medical marijuana establishments at their last meeting. Mayor Brad Boyd expects the ordinance to be brought before the council in a couple of weeks, at which time there will be a public hearing.
Sentiment on the council appears narrowly in favor of such a prohibition. Boyd said he will likely vote for an ordinance though he said neither he nor Councilor Wendy Holzman are particularly concerned about dispensaries.
"I don't see any reason to fight over this," he said. "It's not a big deal. I expect that in a few years it (marijuana) will be legal in this state, but that's way above my pay grade."
While a medical marijuana dispensary in Sisters would be an obvious boon to those with a medical marijuana card who now have to travel at least to Bend to obtain their cannabis, some believe the establishments would be a poor fit for Sisters.
The temporary prohibition ordinance - essentially a moratorium - is a tool for Oregon jurisdictions to use as the legal ramifications of recent changes to the law are sorted out. The moratorium is a compromise under the recently passed SB1531
The bill allows for cities to "impose reasonable regulations on operation of medical marijuana facilities (and) specifies that governing body of city or county may enact moratorium on operation of registered medical marijuana facility until May 1, 2015."
Boyd reported that City Attorney Steve Bryant said that passing an ordinance makes the City less likely to be sued by a business that seeks to establish a dispensary in the City and is denied.
City staff have reported that there have been inquiries from those interested in establishing a dispensary.
Deschutes County commissioners voted Monday to enact a temporary ban.