Oregon House OKs pot dispensary bans

Groups will push to make temporary measures permanent

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SALEM, Ore. — Oregon cities and counties would be allowed to ban medical marijuana stores, but only temporarily, under a bill approved Wednesday in the Oregon House.

Lawmakers voted to give cities and counties permanent authority to control things such as the hours and locations of the medical pot outlets. Local governments that don’t want the facilities would be able to ban them until May 2015.

Supporters say the bill gives the cities and counties some clarity about their authority to regulate the pot facilities, but the local governments and law enforcement lobbies say they’ll continue to push for permanent bans.

The Legislature last year authorized medical marijuana dispensaries, but some cities and counties want to keep them from opening up in their areas. Several jurisdictions have already passed legislation banning them and others are considering similar measures.

The cities and counties had requested the power to ban the medical marijuana outlets permanently, but House Democrats said that would have faced strong opposition in the Senate. They negotiated Tuesday to make the bans temporary.

A few Democrats, including Mitch Greenlick of Portland, spoke out against any form of dispensary ban, even temporary. Greenlick said it sets a bad precedent.

But Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, who helped negotiate the compromise bill, said he believes local governments have a right to ban the facilities. The bill gives them some certainty and has the best chance of becoming a law this session, he said.

“This gives my community the tools it needs right now,” Clem said.