Allie Colosky
The Bulletin

Sisters is considering allowing regulated marijuana commerce within city limits.

The Sisters City Council will hold a series of workshops to discuss potential changes to the city’s business license and other regulations that could allow medical or recreational marijuana sales. All marijuana sales are currently prohibited in Sisters by the city’s business license requirements.

“It’s the goal of the council to investigate restrictions and sample language,” City Manager Brant Kucera said. “The misconception is that people will be able to open a retail shop tomorrow. People need to be aware that this is just the initial discussion. There is no definite decision either way.”

The next City Council workshop is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall and will address legal language regarding local marijuana taxes, hemp-related businesses, the city’s business licenses and land use codes.

“Sisters is one of those cities that has prohibited both medical and recreational use in all business licenses based on the federal law,” Mayor Chuck Ryan said. “This is how we have operated until this point. A lot of cities have come forward to determine their own regulations, accordingly. If we don’t and the federal law changes, we won’t have anything in place so we are trying to be proactive now.”

The city’s business license does not currently allow for medical or recreational marijuana sales or production, and Sisters voters rejected a measure that would have allowed the sale of medical marijuana in the city in 2014.

The community has since seemed to split evenly on the issue of allowing marijuana sales, Kucera said.

“The community does appear to be fairly evenly divided, with maybe a slight majority in favor of it,” he said. “I don’t think the matter is decided at all, but they are definitely exploring the options.”

Other cities in Deschutes County have and set varying guidelines about the time, manner and place of marijuana use.

“Neighboring cities are allowing marijuana (production or sales) in some way, shape or form, and we decided it’s time for us to determine what we want to do,” Ryan said. “There’s pros and cons, of course, but we are going to be very deliberate in our discussions and fact finding.”

The city hosted its first workshop to explore regulated marijuana commerce in January, and the City Council has since toured businesses in Bend that produce or sell marijuana.

The tours were a way to better understand the variety of marijuana commerce the city could allow, Ryan said, such as retail shops or marijuana growing operations.

In addition to changing its business license and adopting time, manner and place of use guidelines, the city would have to address changes in its development code to allow cannabis-related activities. The city could also propose a 3 percent tax on marijuana sales that voters would decide on in a general election.

The city of Bend has collected $883,400 in state and local taxes on marijuana sales since January 2016. Deschutes County received $442,646 as its share of the state sales tax.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829, acolosky@bendbulletin.com

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