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Lawmaker Responds to Dispensary Backlash

dispensary effectsMEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon lawmaker says he’s surprised by the resistance to medical marijuana dispensaries in several southern Oregon cities. He now hopes legislators can use those experiences to make the law more clear.

State Senator Alan Bates said he understands the frustration by local city leaders over medical marijuana dispensary laws.

One by one, major towns in southern Oregon found ways to ban those facilities, at least for now. In response to the backlash, lawmakers amended the rules to let cities put temporary bans on dispensaries until May 2015.

But local city leaders say there’s still too many questions about what they can do to keep them from opening. Some dispensaries have continued to operate even in cities that have passed bans. And local city leaders want the authority to ban them permanently.

“We’d hate to have to go through the courts and be sued and all those other things, just to have a legislature that’s not spineless, and will step up and tell us what we can and can’t do, honestly, so we can take it from there like we do with other things,” said Bob Russell, Eagle Point Mayor.

Bates said he is in favor of local control, and said if cities don’t want dispensaries, they should not be forced to have them.

“I think it would be wrong for the state to say, ‘you must  have one, you’re going to have to have one where we tell you to have one, and we’ll give  you a choice where to put it, but we’re going to make you  have one.’ No, we’re not going to do that,” he said.

Bates said he wants lawmakers to talk with local mayors and city councils over the next few months, and use that feedback when the legislature returns to session next year.