by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)
Last week I attended a special meeting of the Roseburg City Council as they discussed the issue of marijuana dispensaries. My purpose in being there (at their request) was to explain what had happened during the Legislative Session on the subject. Since that time I have been under attack on Facebook by people who “know more than I do” on the subject.
First let me say I acknowledge there are some medical benefits to marijuana, but it should also be acknowledged that smoking it has higher carcinogen levels than tobacco. I will also state that I oppose legalization based on what is currently happening in Colorado and Washington. Because of federal law, and the restrictions around banking and background checks relative to a schedule one narcotic, it would be safe to say all that has happened is the drug cartels now have legitimate outlets. I think we should wait to see how things evolve in those states before we take any action in Oregon.
The original version of the bill the Legislature considered on dispensaries was relatively simple. It basically said that cities and counties could develop their own policies and procedures on the issue, in the same way they currently can in dealing with any other business. The pro-legalization crowd did not like that, and so the compromise was to give local government a very short window of opportunity to institute a ban. The reason we felt this was necessary is because, due to the legislation passed in 2013, dispensaries had the ability to be anywhere they chose (except within 1,000 feet of a school) and there was nothing anyone could do about it. By instituting the ban it would give a city or county the ability and time to develop rules and regulations. In the end they could still allow a dispensary to be sited in their jurisdiction, but they would have control over the process. I think this is a reasonable approach and it is what I encouraged the City Council to enact.
There are still a lot of issues yet to be resolved on this subject, and it will be dealt with in the 2015 Legislative Session. One issue would be the need for a level of training for anyone operating one of these establishments. To administer any other scheduled drug a person has to be a pharmacist. Shouldn’t there be a training requirement for this drug as well? This is just one of several questions we don’t have answers to yet, and we need to have better answers before we move forward.
Medical marijuana was passed by the people in 1998. I have been involved in trying to make the program work and be accountable since that time. I will continue my efforts at the state level, but I also like the local control aspect of giving cities and counties a say in the process. I hope the city of Roseburg and other cities adopt an ordinance, both for the purpose of having control and also for the protection against lawsuits that would probably happen if they don’t. This really is a reasonable approach.