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City to weigh ban on pot shops


The Brookings City Council will discuss a proposed temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana stores in town after a local dispensary owner said he was concerned about their proliferation and cited contradicting laws regarding the locations of them and medical pot dispensaries.

The city council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall on Elk Drive.

Brookings is home to three marijuana stores: Top Shelf Cannabis at Center and Chetco avenues, West Coast Organics near Fifth and Railroad streets and Bud Bros at the north end of town. Tryke City, on Art Walk Alley between Oak and Willow streets, has a pending medical marijuana application, and South Coast Dispensary on Chetco Avenue is temporarily closed due to an alleged violation.

In Harbor, there are an equal number of shops, including High Tide Wellness Center, Bud Mart and Stateline. Port Orford and Wedderburn each have one, and one was recently approved and another proposed in Gold Beach.

Dispensary owner Michael Horgan told the city council in October that state regulations don’t provide the same minimum 1,000-foot separation between recreational shops that are required for medical marijuana and therefore could result in a proliferation of such stores in the downtown core.

“This gentlemen expressed concern that, without some regulation of the siting of recreational marijuana retailers, Brookings might see an influx of recreational retailers from outside the area that find the lack of regulation and proximity to California appealing, City Attorney Martha Rice wrote in a report to the council. “(He feels) such a situation could harm current businesses and sour the public’s view of the industry if Brookings is inundated with recreational marijuana storefronts.”

When medical marijuana became legal, the city decided to adopt the state laws and regulations. Under those, medical marijuana stores cannot be within 1,000 feet of one another; that rule does not apply to recreational stores. None, however, can be within 1,000 feet of a school, or in areas exclusively zoned as residential.

Rice said the city could adopt a temporary moratorium on new recreational shops while the city considers alternatives for changes in local regulations. Moratoriums are limited to six months.

But placing a ban on new stores is a lengthy process, she said.

First, the city must give a 45-day notice to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development with written findings justifying the need for the moratorium, and hold a public hearing.

Within 60 days of the moratorium, the council must adopt a plan to address the issues brought up by the moratorium that, in turn, must be presented at a public hearing. Then, the city must pass an ordinance enacting the moratorium, which would take effect 30 days later. An emergency declaration can be adopted, as well, to put the moratorium into effect immediately.

“If this process is used,” Rice said, “ the moratorium could not go into effect until the first meeting in January (Jan. 8) at the earliest.”