Plan calls for when, where weed will be sold in Tigard

The Tigard Planning Commission is expected to decide tonight on a plan to regulate marijuana dispensaries in the city.Tigard leaders have passed the first hurdle in deciding the fate of marijuana dispensaries in the city at a Planning Commission meeting this week.

Tigard has mulled how to treat legal weed for months. Last year, the Legislature approved plans for medical marijuana dispensaries to open beginning this year. Add to that the recent passage of Measure 91, which legalizes recreational use of the drug, and cities have been forced to come up with standards for both medical and recreational dispensaries.

At issue is where dispensaries will be allowed to set up. Under Measure 91, the city can’t stop dispensaries from opening within its borders unless it holds a public vote to ban them. But cities are allowed to set up restrictions on marijuana businesses, such as their hours of operation and where they can be located.

The city’s Planning Commission opened discussion of the issue at its Monday meeting, and will continue the discussion at its Feb. 9 meeting. Under the proposed rules put forth on Monday, dispensaries would not be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of a school or within 500 feet of residential homes, parks or “recreation zones” such as libraries.

Tigard imposed a moratorium last year on any marijuana dispensaries opening in the city last year that prevented any marijuana dispensaries opening in the city until May 2015. City councilors said the prohibition was only temporary, allowing the city to get its tax structure and zoning requirements in line before any businesses open.

Medical marijuana dispensaries can apply for business licenses as soon as the moratorium is lifted, though recreational retailers won’t be able to open until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission — which will oversee the program — begins taking applications next year.

John Floyd, a planner with the city, said that dispensaries are already lining up to open in Tigard.

“Tigard is seen as a very desirable place to do business,” Floyd told the commission on Monday. “Both from a rent perspective and from the potential for (commuter) traffic.”

Dispensaries have opened in Tigard before. In 2010, a group known as The Human Collective opened near Interstate 5. The shop was seen by many as a poster child for how medical marijuana shops could be set up, but it was raided and closed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in 2012.

The shop has since re-opened across Interstate 5 in Multnomah County.

“A few dispensary owners have mentioned to me that Portland is getting saturated,” Floyd added. “The suburbs are a new market. There is demand here and Tigard has a regional transportation advantage as well. It’s easy access for everyone.”

Regulations for hours, locations, odors

Dispensaries can begin applying for city business licenses as soon as a temporary ban is lifted, likely in May, city officials said.If approved, the city would essentially limit dispensaries and grow operations from opening except in a few small areas of the city, including select storefronts in downtown Tigard, a large swath of the Tigard Triangle between Pacific Highway and Highway 217, along 72nd Avenue and in Metzger, and near Washington Square.

Under the proposed rules, dispensaries in Tigard would be open only between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., the same hours as the Tigard Liquor Store.

If approved, the restrictions would impact any business where marijuana is produced, such as indoor grow facilities, as well as dispensaries or so-called “cannabis cafés,” where the drug is consumed.

The proposed rules also require businesses to keep security lighting, ban drive-through dispensaries and places restrictions on odor.

“The proposed development shall confine all marijuana odors and other objectionable odors to levels undetectable at the property line,” city staff wrote in its proposal.

Commissioners are also considering possible rules for dispensary signs in an attempt to keep them from standing out too much.

“I don’t want to see drive down (Highway) 99W and see blight,” Rogers said. “I’d like it to blend in.”

Robert Grant, an attorney representing the marijuana industry, said that the proposed restrictions were a great way to keep the community safe.

“You are really taking the steps necessary in order to make this successful for everyone in the state of Oregon,” he said.

Not everyone is happy with those plans. Members of Tigard Turns the Tide and CPO 4B spoke out against the restrictions saying they wouldn’t do enough to keep marijuana from getting into the hands of children.

Rogers said he understands that sentiment.

“Our community is telling us, ‘Look. We know it’s legal and that times are changing,’” Rogers said. “The analogy to Prohibition is dead on. But we still want to protect our families and enforce that responsibility.”

The Commission is expected to vote on the changes at its Feb. 9 meeting. Those rules will then go before the City Council for final approval.

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