Recreational marijuana sales in Prineville are already banned, but city councilors at their Tuesday meeting will consider adopting even tighter restrictions.
A new ordinance, which was introduced in August but flopped after the City Council tied in a 3-3 vote, would amend the city’s existing marijuana policy to require complete legalization by the federal government before recreational sales could begin in Prineville. Currently, the city’s rules state that the federal government only has to remove marijuana from its Schedule 1 category on the DEA’s controlled substance schedule before local sales can begin.
“This ordinance would amend the old one to say that recreational marijuana would only be available after the DEA completely drops it instead of just takes it off Schedule 1,” said Phil Stenbeck, the city’s community development director. Medical marijuana sales are legal in Prineville. Additionally, people can grow up to four marijuana plants at their homes for recreational use.
While the ordinance is the same as the one that didn’t pass last year, the council is different. Former councilor Jason Carr, who voted against the ordinance in August because it was “too punitive,” isn’t on the council anymore. Councilor Jeff Papke, who was absent and didn’t get to vote, will be there Tuesday. Teresa Rodriguez, the only new councilor, said she’s studying the issue.
“My understanding is that we can go ahead now and vote on this again,” Stenbeck said, adding that he doesn’t believe the 3-3 tie killed the ordinance. “It’s my understanding that it’s just floating around. I recommend that we have it on the agenda, and we can see where it goes.”
Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe said the ordinance is simply a clarification of what the original ordinance was always intended to say.
“All we’re doing is making sure that our ordinance says it’s not OK in Prineville if the federal government doesn’t approve it,” she said. But last year, not everyone on the council saw the new ordinance as a simple clarification.
Carr, when asked Monday to expand on his August “no” vote, said he felt the ordinance added unnecessary layers of regulation to an issue that was already regulated enough. Also, other municipalities had faced legal action over similar issues, he said, and he didn’t think it was worth the trouble.
“We were adding every level of restriction of the federal government into this new ordinance, without knowing what would happen,” he said. “We had already passed an ordinance, and we were essentially coming back and wanted to add more restrictions. The first ordinance took care of what we were trying to accomplish. To me it was just too much, too complex.”
In October, the city of Cave Junction backed out of a 2014 lawsuit against the state that stemmed from a city code that banned local medical marijuana sales. The city sought a judgment on whether it could outlaw medical marijuana dispensaries and whether federal law superseded state law after it was sued by a local dispensary for revoking its business license — the litigation Carr was referring to.
The League of Oregon Cities intervened in that case, which is currently pending before the Oregon Court of Appeals, League of Oregon Cities spokesman Kevin Toon said.
Andrew Anderson co-owns the only medical marijuana dispensary in Prineville with his wife, Jocelyn. He showed up at the council meeting in August to oppose the ordinance. At the time, he told councilors that if they chose to adopt it he would appeal their decision to the state. On Monday he said he still might do that, but it might not be worth it anymore. For one thing, even if the new ordinance isn’t adopted, the old one still doesn’t allow him to sell recreational marijuana in Prineville. And secondly, the federal government’s positions have shifted since last year, he said.
“If (Prineville councilors) change it to a (DEA) scheduling as restrictive as this I’ll probably still appeal,” he said. “But we’d much rather work with the city. But yeah, back then we were hoping that the whole situation would’ve changed by now. I’m not sure if it will because of Trump.”
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