It turns out Oregon and Washington have a lot in common when it comes to marijuana law. While our neighbors to the north have been making headlines with recreational marijuana legalization, Oregon too is becoming a bit more welcoming to marijuana in certain respects. Though we are a long way from effectively legalizing marijuana, the Oregon Legislature recently sanctioned retail medical marijuana dispensaries. Unfortunately, as Washington has already learned, this leniency rarely comes without complication.
One such complication is with local moratoriums. As with the I-502 law in Washington, there is nothing in the regulation that operates to prevent local jurisdictions from imposing bans on medical marijuana sales. In fact, the Oregon Legislature specifically gave cities until May 1 to enact local bans on dispensaries. This means while the state legislature may have spoken with the purpose of creating leniency in Oregon, local jurisdictions can essentially ignore the regulation. In many cities, allowing medical marijuana businesses would be in direct conflict with existing local rules against allowing businesses that violate federal law.
Of course, one way to avoid this conflict would be to change the local rules, but not all Oregon cities are willing. As of April 15, 71 cities in Oregon have moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries, with more than 40 others still considering enacting a ban before the deadline.
Although it's a baby-step compared to Washington's recreational marijuana sales, it's nice to see the Oregon Legislature opening up to the idea of the big business of marijuana. If you're considering opening up shop in Oregon or Washington, a marijuana business attorney can help guide you.