By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Well, at least a task force was established.
The hot button issue of medical marijuana facilities was brought up once again Monday during the Keizer City Council meeting.
During previous discussion, councilors had indicated they were leaning towards requiring a permit in order to operate a medical marijuana facility in Keizer, following on a recommendation by the Keizer Planning Commission.
However, that did not happen. Nor did a motion to establish a moratorium on such facilities.
What was approved was a medical marijuana facilities regulations task force.
City Attorney Shannon Johnson noted state law allowed the facilities starting Monday morning and pointed to the ever-changing laws at the state level on this issue.
“Seeing some things in the state, it’s a moving target right now,” Johnson said. “Other cities have done temporary moratoriums. After we finalized the council packet on (Feb. 26), the bill had been substantially changed for Thursday.”
After a bit of discussion, councilors voted unanimously to establish the seven-member task force. The task force will include one councilor, a Planning Commission member, a Keizer Chamber of Commerce member, a member each from the West Keizer and Greater Gubser Neighborhood Associations, a member from a local school and a representative from the medical marijuana community. Membership was amended to including a law enforcement person in a non-voting role.
The task force will be dissolved no later than May 6, though it could be extended.
Following the vote, councilors discussed Johnson’s idea of establishing a moratorium that would prohibit the placement of medical marijuana facilities in Keizer for 120 days.
Nate Brown, director of Community Development, pointed to another possibility.
“One option is to do nothing, but that leaves us in a very odd spot,” Brown said. “We’re not sure what direction the council will take. We don’t have any guidelines yet. The intent is the task force will convene and make specific recommendations.”
Councilor Dennis Koho pointed to the regulation.
“This seems so un-Keizer like,” Koho said. “The only kind of business we regulated with a license is a temporary business. All the rest of them, like drugstores, liquor stores, law offices or insurance, none of them are licensed in Keizer. Some of them sell things far more dangerous than this. We don’t need a prohibition. I don’t think we need this.”
Councilor Jim Taylor wanted to see things settle.
“I think we should put on the moratorium until legislators are done with their part,” Taylor said. “This is something our citizens will be concerned about, where these establishments will be placed. The ad hoc committee will look through these things. It’s still a very moving target. Wait and find out what the legislators do. Wait for the task force.”
The motion ended up failing by a 4-2 vote with Koho, Cathy Clark, Egli and Marlene Quinn voting against it.
That led to a comment late in the meeting from Brown.
“I’m reeling a little bit about what to do with medical marijuana,” Brown said late in the meeting. “I’ll have to figure out how to handle a person that comes to me tomorrow with medical marijuana applications. Without any direction from council, I’m a little lost how to respond. State law requires they comply with local law. I’m dealing with how I’m going to respond with these requests.”
The issue was expected to be brought up at Thursday’s special hearing for the Rawlins deal.