By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
It’s not coming up as frequently now, but medical marijuana is still coming up from time to time in Keizer City Council meetings.
Such was the case once again at the Aug. 4 council meeting.
The issue has been a hot one at the city and county levels around the state this year, due to new state laws about medical marijuana facilities and regulations regarding them.
City attorney Shannon Johnson presented a draft ordinance for adopting a city medical marijuana facility permit process, based on discussion at the June 16 council meeting. The ordinance summarized eight points, including the permit having to be renewed each year, operating hours for facilities, background checks being required and a 1,000 foot buffer from any publicly-owned property and a 1,500 foot buffer from any private or public school.
While work has been done on the ordinance, Johnson noted more time was needed.
“I ask that you wait to adopt,” he said. “There are three things I want to look at more.”
Those three things are looking at state requirements for security measures, expanding on the hearings officer section and coming up with an appropriate amount for the application and permit fees.
“It is our understanding that Salem’s task force is recommending a fee of $10,000 per year,” Johnson said. “Should that get adopted by the Salem City Council, there may be a dynamic in effect if Keizer’s fees are substantially lower. The dynamic I am referring to is that a facility operator may give careful consideration to placing the facility in Keizer rather than Salem.”
Johnson said a map in his staff report showed 18 possible locations for medical marijuana facilities in Keizer, but that wasn’t expected to happen.
“They are highly hypothetical locations,” he said. “It’s extremely unlikely we would have anything close to this number.”
Mayor Lore Christopher wants cities in the Willamette Valley to have similar fees to each other.
“We’re all putting in these types of ordinances,” Christopher said. “I want to get a sense of what others are doing. I’d like to be consistent.”
Councilor Marlene Quinn suggested lowering the age for people who can purchase medical marijuana from 21 to 18. Others agreed with that idea.
Councilor Cathy Clark asked Johnson to look at the language of an upcoming ballot initiative for recreational marijuana.
“We have an initiative on the ballot,” Clark said. “I’m not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV, but a measure has been approved for the November 4 ballot.”
A good part of the discussion centered on when the topic should be brought up again.
While there were some suggestions of the topic coming up in October, councilor Dennis Koho pushed for an earlier start.
“I think we should address this before October,” said Koho, who pushed for September.
“I think it should come back the first meeting in September,” she said. “We may know more what Salem does by then.”
Koho gave more reason for a September date.
“I want to move forward,” he said. “I’m getting tired of dealing with it. I’m surprised we’re not passing it tonight. Let’s bring it back in a month and be ready to approve it.”
By consensus, councilors agreed to look at the topic again at their Sept. 2 meeting.
In other business Aug. 4:
• Christopher referenced going to the July 30 open house for Madison Delaney Grill, opened by longtime Keizer resident Jim Marshall in the former Caruso’s building overlooking Staats Lake. The upscale restaurant at 5745 Inland Shores Way opens at 11 a.m. each day and is open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 on Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s fabulous food and a great location,” the mayor said. “It’s fine dining. You wanted a dinner house in Keizer; now you’ve got one and it’s a good one.”
• Police chief John Teague noted the high level of participation in the annual National Night Out, which took place the night after the council meeting.
“We have 38 neighborhoods participating in National Night Out,” he said.
• The next council meeting takes place Tuesday, Sept. 2 instead of the normal first Monday date due to the Labor Day holiday. The meeting will start at the regular 7 p.m. time.