A bill that would allow cities to strangle but not actually prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries has cleared the state Senate Judiciary Committee. All five committee members including Sen. Betsy Close, R-Albany, voted to send SB 1531 to the Senate floor with a do-pass recommendation.
The bill would allow cities and counties to “impose reasonable regulations on the operations of medical marijuana facilities,” but not to prohibit them completely as Albany and other cities had intended. The bill says “reasonable regulations” mean limitations on hours of operation, location within the zones where dispensaries are allowed by state rules, and “conditions on the manner in which” marijuana is dispensed.
If the bill passes in its amended form, it’s pretty obvious that cities will use it to thwart dispensaries any way they can. A city might, for example, require that a dispensary can operate only between 11 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This might seem reasonable to council members who don’t want to allow dispensaries at all, but it would be unreasonable to anyone hoping to open a store and recoup the thousands of dollars in permit fees required by the state, let alone make a living.
Also, the Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 along party lines, with Jeff Kruse joining Close in voting no, to send a marijuana legalization bill to the Senate Rules Committee with a do-pass recommendation. SB 1556 calls for an election this fall on legalizing marijuana use by adults. If his measure becomes law and voters endorse legalization, the state would work out tax and other regulations.
Like Judiciary, the Rules Committee has three Democrats and two Republicans. The panel has no current meetings on the schedule, but that could change. (hh)