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Oregon Court Rules That Local Governments May Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


medical marijuana advertising ban outdoor denverIt has been a wild ride for medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon. Medical marijuana dispensaries have been around for a long, long time in Oregon. However, until late 2013 they were illegal, and it wasn’t until this year that licenses were issued to make some of them completely legal. Ironically, even though the dispensaries were illegal for so long, it was only after they became legal that local governments started to crack down on some of them. Some local governments issued moratoriums prohibiting them from opening until rules could be figured out that would regulate time and place. According to at least one court in Oregon, local governments can ban them altogether, a ruling that will no doubt be challenged. Per Oregon Live:

Local governments can restrict or ban medical marijuana facilities, a Josephine County Circuit Court judge concluded in a ruling issued late Thursday.

The ruling centered on the southern Oregon community of Cave Junction, where the city council sued the state over medical marijuana dispensaries, arguing that cities shouldn’t be required to license businesses that violate federal law. Marijuana is prohibited under federal law.

The case raised two key legal issues: Does state law prohibit local governments from banning dispensaries and, if so, does the federal prohibition on marijuana override that state law?

Judge Pat Wolke concluded that nothing in Oregon’s new dispensary law, passed in 2013, and a law enacted earlier this year allowing local governments to impose yearlong dispensary moratoriums prevents local governments from banning the establishments.

As I stated earlier in this article, this ruling will be challenged very quickly. What the Oregon Court of Appeals has to say will be telling, but even then it won’t be the end of the legal battle, as whichever side loses at that level will no doubt challenge the next ruling all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court and beyond. Some of the same cities that are trying to ban dispensaries are passing laws to put taxes in place so that if/when Oregon legalizes recreational marijuana, the taxes will be in place waiting for the stores to open. Ironically, Oregon Measure 91 gives full taxing authority to the State, so the recently passed tax laws are going to be irrelevant, and highlight just how little some local governments have researched the issue.


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Johnny Green


  1. Didn’t the gov brake the law by giving the city council the option to op out of the new law that was voted in by the people , meaning your vote don’t matter they will brake the law to stop the people.

  2. Odd that these SW Oregon counties/cities kick and scream for more money to fund basic services when they could be supporting the industry, the taxes, and jobs it creates. SW Oregon will someday produce cannabis like the wine industry produces world class pinot noir. We have the water, soils, and labor to meet the market. All we need is a stable source of good stock, R & D, and a solid testing protocol for content.

  3. same as what happened in MI. Most cities now have closed dispensaries calling them public nuciences (sp) the ones that do luckily have some open minded mayors or DAs. Hope this doesn’t change with elections as one is fairly close. Of course closing them shouldn’t be an option after voting on it in 2008. Any new laws for clarification have made it more difficult, except greenhouse allowances being considered locked and secured now. Everything from requiring lock boxes in vehicles to drugged driving laws.

  4. William James Esbensen on

    if anyone understands its me the director of the 45th parallel , please get out and VOTE !

  5. Get out the vote! We will not pass 91 if we do not vote. The seniors will be turning out in droves as they always do and we need the 18-34 age group to turn out and vote or we may not win.

    Please vote, and get a friend to vote, too.

  6. Everyone is such a die hard when it comes to liking mary jane. They won’t complain when it makes the state 300 million. Problem is, everyone says in polls they want to legalize. Why does everyone wimp out when it’s crunch time?

  7. This is a very critical issue for all marijuana issues we vote on. What’s the point of legalizing something, medically or recreationally, if cities can just take away what we voted for and have a select few ban it for everyone in their jurisdiction?

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