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La Pine OKs medical marijuana dispensary rules


Facing a fast-approaching deadline, the La Pine City Council unanimously passed a set of local regulations Wednesday night governing medical marijuana dispensaries, including location and operating-hour limits and a 5 percent tax.

Last year, the state allowed communities to place a one year law moratorium on any dispensaries, but that expires on May 1. Lawmakers left it up to each city to decide the time, place and manner on where dispensaries could go and the hours they can operate.

City Manager Rick Allen said if they missed the May 1 deadline, dispensaries would be unregulated at the local level. “You have to do something, or then they’re unregulated, and they can just operate,” he said.

Some of the provisions include where dispensaries can be located.

“There can be no medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of any public or official school,” Allen said.

Dispensaries also must be at least 500 feet from a certified day care facility and 700 feet from the public library. Meanwhile, a state law requires dispensaries must be 1,000 feet apart from each other.

The provisions also set maximum operating hours.

“You can be open no earlier than 9 (a.m.), you must close by 7 (p.m.), that’s to keep them from being open late at night. You can open seven days a week,” Allen said. “There’s regulations on how you dispose of residue. You can’t just put it in your Dumpster, so people aren’t Dumpster diving.”

Other regulations include a 5 percent tax with each medical marijuana operation. Their records will be closely audited, and if regulations are broken, dispensaries can be fined $500 a day. The city set that potential tax in place last fall, along with a 15 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales, ahead of Measure 91’s passage by voters.

With the new city dispensary rules in place, city councilors say there’s still a key role for parents and the public to play.

Councilor Stu Martinez says there should be guidelines in place as recreational pot becomes legal July 1. Now it’s up the city to create certain rules to help the community.

“The parents need to take on the responsibility (for) this medical marijuana, so the edibles don’t flow into the wrong hands — that’s not the city’s responsibility,” Martinez said.

Councilor Karen War added, “We owe it to our children, and to our people that live here to put rules in place, to protect us. And if we don’t do that, then we have really failed.”

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