City government — Subcommittee recommends allowing producers to grow marijuana in most residential and industrial areas

In the first instance of Newberg considering recreational marijuana regulations, last week the subcommittee tasked with all pot related matters recommended land use restrictions for production and processing facilities that could be licensed by the state as early as April 1.

The committee — made up of councilors Tony Rourke, Denise Bacon and Stephen McKinney as voting members — was asked to consider “reasonable restrictions” on recreational marijuana producers and processors, beyond those imposed by state regulations from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

The recreational “processors” category applies to locations that “compound or convert marijuana into products, concentrates or extracts. Essentially, these entities take the raw marijuana from the “producers” and make it into a saleable product for either the “wholesaler” or “retailer” categories.PMG FILE - The city of Newberg has begun discussions on regulating recreational marijuana sales in town once it becomes legal later this year.

OLCC regulations require processors to operate indoors, but the committee was allowed to impose some additional regulations. The committee decided to make similar requirements of recreational processors as it did medical processing sites.

“I think there’s no reason to treat (recreational) differently,” Bacon said. “Or any fair reason to treat it differently.”

So the group agreed to allow recreational processors as a permitted use in industrial zones (M-1, M-2, M-3, M-4 and SD/E). Much of that land is located in the Industrial Parkway area and along Mountainview Drive east of Villa Road.

Because the processing has to be done indoors, Community Development Director Doug Rux did not recommend the committee set any time restrictions.

Recreational marijuana producers are akin to the medical “grow site” category: producers manufacture, plant, cultivate or grow marijuana, before it gets turned over to the processors.

When considering medical growers the group had recommended allowing up to 12 marijuana plants for two patients to be grown without regulations kicking in. The reasoning for that, Bacon explained, was because there were already medical cardholders who would be impacted if they suddenly had to go through new regulations.

With recreational growers, though, it is an entirely new process (legally, at least), so the subcommittee had less qualms placing some restrictions on recreational producers.

The committee ultimately recommended the city allow recreational marijuana production in most residential areas – with the exception of the higher-density R-3 zone and some sub-districts – but to allow producers to operate indoors in residential only.

State restrictions indicate producers cannot operate out of a “primary residence,” meaning the indoor facilities would most likely be some sort of secondary structure on a property.

Under the subcommittee’s recommendation, producers would not be allowed in commercial, institutional or community facilities zones, but they would be in certain industrial areas.

McKinney said he was inclined not to allow producers outdoor operation in industrial zones, but Bacon and Rourke were in favor of outdoor conditional use.

“I am not the business police,” Bacon said, adding she would not treat a marijuana business different than any others. “As long as they’re compatible.”

The group voted 2-1 to allow indoor industrial producers as a permitted use (except in the airport industrial areas) and to allow outdoor producers on a conditional basis.

While the subcommittee has given the planning commission a jumping off point for considering recreational marijuana regulations, it’s still possible the entire process could need to be repeated once the state gives more guidance.

“We don’t know what the Legislature is going to do in the short session or long session, so there may be further revisions,” Rux told the group.

So, as has been the case throughout the entire recreational marijuana lawmaking process, the only certainty is the lack of certainty.

“It sounds like we’ll be visiting this many, many, many times over the next year, I would assume,” Rourke said.

But with the producers and processors regulations off the subcommittee’s plate for now, once the City Council initiates the process of regulating the time, place and manner of recreational marijuana wholesalers, laboratories, research certificates and retailers, the marijuana group will come back and discuss those regulations Feb. 4.

There will also be a discussion of paraphernalia that day, while for the time being the city is operating under temporary regulations allowing sales of marijuana paraphernalia in accordance with state law.

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