Oregon sign with marijuana leaf

Two years ago voters in Oregon voted to legalize recreational marijuana statewide. The communities opted out of the agreement but this month reconsidered and approve of some type of marijuana business, including medical. The communities must now establish rules for the production and distribution of cannabis. Local officials are left with many decisions on: whether businesses should be allowed near parks,what odor control measures must enforced, operating hours for retailers, and necessary security precautions.

Scott Winkels, a lobbyist with the League of Oregon Cities said, “No one has done this in Oregon since liquor Prohibition…This is the first time we’ve had to step in and develop and regulate a marketplace for a controlled substance since 1933.”

Regulations have taken place in all states that have approved cannabis—even Colorado where cannabis was legalized in 2012—rules are still being adjusted accordingly. Denver became the first U.S. city to allow people to use marijuana in bars and restaurants this month although state officials announced a rule that prohibits businesses with liquor licenses to allow pot consumption on their premise. In California, which approved pot last week, the San Jose City Council imposed a temporary ban – including on outdoor gardens – to give officials time to develop regulations for sales and farming.

The League of Oregon Cities has written a guide to help local officials: Cities may impose restrictions on the hours of operation and the locations of producers, processors, wholesalers, as well as retailers and medical marijuana grow sites, processing sites and dispensaries. They may also regulate public access and how the businesses operate.

One ballot measure that passed last week imposed a 3 percent local sales tax on cannabis products, on top of a 17 percent state sales tax, said Rob Bovett, legal counsel of Association of Oregon Counties. Counties and cities that decided to prohibit cannabis businesses still hedged their bets by approving the additional tax incase voters said yes to pot, a smart move as they will now be able to enforce it.

“All (of Oregon’s) 111 cities and counties voted yes on the local tax,” Bovett said.

If the jurisdictions want to reap the tax benefits at the earliest opportunity, they should have the regulations finalized before the opt-in ballot measures go into effect in January so marijuana companies can seek licenses and start doing business, liquor commission spokesman Mark Pettinger said.

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