Phoenix struggles with future pot businesses

PHOENIX — After a more than three-hour meeting Tuesday, the City Council dropped plans to seek voters' comments in May on whether to ban or restrict medical marijuana businesses inside the city limits.

But it might consider putting up at least a temporary roadblock.

City officials were divided over whether the city could effectively ask voters to ban or restrict businesses that are permitted by the state.

Medical marijuana outlets will be allowed under state rules beginning March 3. City Manager Steve Dahl said the council likely will consider a four-month moratorium, which would effectively prohibit any dispensaries from receiving a permit in Phoenix until at least July.

The moratorium could go into place as early as March 3, the day such businesses can request legal licensing from the state under House Bill 3460.

Dahl said a moratorium, which city officials believe would be recognized by the state, would give the city time to determine proper zoning for businesses related to the medical marijuana industry.

Dahl said the council was following the lead of other Oregon cities, including Sherwood and North Bend, which have approved moratoriums in recent months.

In addition to delaying a decision about medical marijuana businesses, city officials delayed plans to place restrictions on backyard growers to deal with nuisance issues such as odor.

Dahl said the city for now would rely on existing nuisance laws to address issues.

Inside Phoenix, a patient resource center dubbed The Greenery is already in operation. Operating without a business license, The Greenery is being issued citations of up to $100 per day, which the owners plan to contest in court.

The operators contend that information sharing and communication between patients is legal under state law, and they say The Greenery is not operating as a state-defined medical marijuana business.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at

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