Medical marijuana: Hillsboro officials, now racing against ban’s sunset, propose reopening hearing

Medical marijuana: Hillsboro officials, now racing against ban’s sunset, propose reopening hearing

Hillsboro officials want the city’s planning commission next month to reopen its public hearing on medical marijuana dispensaries, city documents show.

After months of delays, commissioners in August voted to postpone the hearing indefinitely, preferring to wait to see if Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana in November’s election. They did – Measure 91 passed, with more than 55 percent of voters choosing “yes” in Hillsboro, Washington County and the state at large.

Now, planners are racing to implement zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries before May 1, when the state’s window allowing individual cities to ban the dispensaries will close. Hillsboro passed its own one-year ban last April.

A timetable included in a city staff report indicates that the planning commission could reopen the public hearing on Feb. 11 and March 11 and forward zoning recommendations to the Hillsboro City Council on March 25. The council would then need to pass an ordinance over two meetings in April, just in time for the ban’s expiration in May.

The state legislature stipulated that dispensaries couldn’t be within 1,000 feet from schools or other dispensaries. City planners, though, want to broadly interpret the state law and institute additional 1,000-foot buffers – from the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza, parks, libraries and residential zones. That would leave few areas of the city where dispensaries could actually locate.

Supporters of dispensaries have repeatedly reminded the planning commission that all 17 people who attended two open houses in February and March of 2014 said the state’s regulations were strict enough by themselves. The commissioners could choose to recommend the planning department’s strict rules, the state’s more relaxed rules or some combination of both.

— Luke Hammill

Contact the reporter on this story:
503-294-4029; @HlsboroReporter

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