By Lauren Dake

The Bulletin

Senate Bill 1531

Chief sponsors: Sen. Rod Monroe, D-Portland; Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena; and Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro

Synopsis: Allows local governments to adopt reasonable regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries, regulating the time, manner and place they exist. The bill was amended so that cities could not ban the marijuana outlets. Effective March 1, 2014

Status: Passed the Senate unanimously, goes to House


SALEM — A measure allowing cities and counties to regulate but not ban medical marijuana dispensaries in their communities sailed out of the state Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1531 allows cities and counties to regulate the time, place and manner in which medical marijuana dispensaries can operate within their borders.

“I know there are some individuals who would like to see an outright prohibition. … But clearly we’ve never given any authority to any local government to basically not allow for the dispensing of medicine within their boundaries where it is in fact legal in the state of Oregon,” Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said on the Senate floor.

The measure passed unanimously and now heads to the House.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Oregon in 1998.

Last year, the state legalized medical marijuana dispensaries. Several dispensaries across the state had already set up shop and although often ignored by officials, they operated in a nebulous zone of legality. The state is now in the process of registering dispensaries and writing rules on how they should be regulated.

Several cities and counties have banned dispensaries or relied on existing ordinances to prevent them from coming to their towns and cities.

Sen. Rod Monroe, D-Portland, said this measure moves the state “in the right direction.”

“Local cities and counties are often closer to the people than even legislators. … They know their needs, and they can make regulations, reasonable regulations,” he said.

But one of the measure’s chief sponsors, Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, said he would continue to push for cities and counties to be able to ban dispensaries.

Both the Association of Oregon Counties and the League of Oregon Cities advocated on behalf of allowing cities and counties to ban the marijuana retail outlets. Several people mentioned in earlier testimony that giving local communities the power to choose whether to allow dispensaries in their towns would avoid costly and unnecessary litigation.

Several Central Oregon cities have pointed to ordinances already on their books that state no business can violate federal law. Madras and Culver each rejected an application from interested parties who wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

George Endicott, the mayor of Redmond and chairman of the Central Oregon Cities Organization, said the organization opposed the legislation because it didn’t give the cities the flexibility to ban dispensaries. The city of Redmond has not allowed dispensaries to open there, pointing to a similar business ordinance that doesn’t allow permits for businesses that violate federal law.

“This is an attempt to try and restrict local alternatives and local control,” Endicott said.

— Reporter: 541-554-1162,