If state lawmakers pass a bill allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot starting Oct. 1, Portland is unlikely to stand in the way.

The Legislature’s marijuana committee approved a bill Thursday to allow early sales of dried marijuana while also giving cities and counties the chance to opt out.

“I don’t believe that at this point our council has any interest in opting out,” said Theresa Marchetti, livability program manager in Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement.

Under the bill, local governments could opt out of early sales with a vote of city council members or county commissioners. Other rules kick in for opting out of sales once Measure 91 is fully implemented, now expected for late 2016.

Marchetti said Portland is still reviewing Senate Bill 460 on early sales. “At the bare minimum,” Marchetti said, the law “gives us an opportunity to have communications with the dispensaries.”

A decision to go along isn’t a 100 percent certainty, Marchetti said, but “there’s some shared understanding” between City Council members and state lawmakers that voters want to see a legal way to obtain recreational marijuana as soon as possible.

Possessing pot becomes legal July 1, but consumers won’t have a legal way to buy it.

Not all communities in Oregon are as receptive to marijuana – medical or recreational. In total, 146 cities and 26 counties participated in a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. Those moratoriums expired May 1.

Reached Thursday, officials in some of those cities said it was too soon to say whether they would opt out of early sales of recreational marijuana.

“We haven’t discussed it,” said Jon Holman, Forest Grove’s community development manager. “We’ll wait until the Legislature sorts everything out.”

Hillsboro’s spokesman, Patrick Preston, said “it’s a little early” for the city to discuss how it might address the issue.

In an email, Gresham Spokeswoman Robin Franzen Parker said city officials haven’t discussed early sales.

Portland is starting a work group next week of community members, neighborhood groups, marijuana business owners and city officials to discuss how to best regulate the marijuana industry in Portland.

— Andrew Theen
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