Marijuana-leaf

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

An ordinance regarding a marijuana retailer permit process was approved Monday night, but only after a change was made to make it more edible to Keizer City Councilors.

Councilors in Keizer and across the state have spent plenty of time since the end of 2014 trying to figure out local rules about recreational marijuana, approved by Oregon voters in November 2014.

A permit process was passed 6-1 in December, but since the vote wasn’t unanimous it came up for a second vote on Monday.

It wasn’t unanimous this time, either.

After council president Dennis Koho made a motion to adopt the ordinance as written, the vote failed by a 5-2 count, with only mayor Cathy Clark and councilor Amy Ryan voting in favor.

Immediately after the vote, councilor Brandon Smith proposed removing one line from the ordinance, reading “The marijuana retailer shall have no marijuana in edible form.”

That led to some discussion.

“Is there specific information from the state about quantities and the strains (of marijuana) that go into edibles?” Ryan asked. “Do they have to be made in an oven with a health code?”

City Attorney Shannon Johnson said there are standards that have to be followed.

“There are significant regulations on the edibles,” Johnson said.

Ryan indicated she had done research on the topic since the December vote.

“Has anyone received new information that changed their opinion?” she asked. “My research is based on other states and the challenges they have faced.”

Councilor Roland Herrera said he understands there are stringent rules for recreational marijuana, just as there are for medical marijuana.

Johnson said the rules mainly focus on packaging and marketing.

“It must be child resistant for the package and marketing must not be aimed at minors,” he said. “I believe there are some specific dosage limits as well. There are stringent regulations in place.”

Johnson said the items must be made by a licensed processor in order to be sold in a licensed shop.

Herrera said he had looked at how items were packaged, since that was his initial main concern. Koho made a similar comment last month.

After Johnson noted anything but a unanimous vote on the edible part would require another future vote, Clark made her stance known.

“Where I have a problem is the problems in other states with accidental poisoning (for edibles),” she said. “They are easily ingested by children and animals. When it comes to marijuana, it is not as likely to be ingested by a minor in smokeable form. It is more attractive when in edible form. If we’re going to have recreational availability of something potentially harmful, I don’t feel this is a helpful thing. I understand they are things people enjoy on a recreational basis, but I don’t think this in edible form will be a benefit to the community.”

With that, the motion to approve the amended ordinance was passed 5-2, with Clark and Ryan again voting contrary to the majority.

“Any chance this would be the last time talking about marijuana in my term?” Koho asked.

Johnson responded there will be discussion of a marijuana tax coming later. He noted Monday was the first day licenses for recreational marijuana shops could be applied for, but the first licenses aren’t expected to be final until October. So-called “early sales” of recreational marijuana are allowed at medical marijuana shops, with a 25 percent tax added. That tax goes away at the end of 2016, replaced by a 17 percent statewide tax and an optional 3 percent local tax.