Editorial: One-year dispensary ban is better than none

The Oregon Legislature has been struggling with whether local governments should be able to ban marijuana dispensaries. Amendments have changed the provisions of Senate Bill 1531 several times, as it has wound through discussions and votes in the House and Senate.

Nearing adjournment, the compromise solution appears to be allowing the bans for one year only. That’s not enough, but it’s far better than no bans at all. It allows at least some time to sort things out, maybe even to get an extension of bans in the next legislative session.

Oregon has had legal medical marijuana since 1998, but it was only last year that lawmakers legalized shops to sell it. Just this week, applications were accepted from those who want to open such stores or legalize ones already in existence.

Some communities, including Madras, Redmond and Culver, have said they don’t want those shops within their boundaries. They’ve received support from the Association of Oregon Counties and the League of Oregon Cities, which base their position on the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. According to The Oregonian, 35 cities and two counties have rules or moratoriums that block marijuana facilities.

How can these local governments be required by the state to violate federal law?

SB 1531 would allow communities to regulate the dispensaries, and the original version permitted bans. The most recent version allows bans only until May 1, 2015.

House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, issued a statement saying he’s disappointed in the time limit, because it leaves communities with uncertainty.

Unless or until the national law changes, we are all in uncharted territory on legalized marijuana. Individual communities should have the power to choose not to participate during these changing times.

We’re not satisfied with a one-year limit, but if that’s all that can be achieved in this legislative session, it’s a compromise communities can live with and work on.