Bend Marijuana Advisory Committee Makes Planning Proposal

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At the November 9 Planning Commission meeting Bend’s Marijuana Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) made their recommendations regarding the proposed development code language that will regulate where marijuana businesses can locate within the city.

The committee is comprised of local business leaders, an attorney, a school board member and community members at large. They have been called upon by City Council to proactively address compatibility concerns raised by members of the public and provide recommendations for appropriate time, place and manner restrictions for marijuana businesses.

Discussions are in preparation for the 2016 recreational market once the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) starts issuing licenses.

“The goal is to have regulations in place when the state starts handing out licenses so that businesses know what the laws are going to be at the local level,” Assistant City Manager, Jon Skidmore said.

MTAC reached a consensus on appropriate zoning districts for marijuana related uses and Bend’s Planning Commission has elected to adopt the recommended buffers. The recommendations will be heard by City Council before a final decision is reached in December.

“There was good compromise amongst the committee to reach these decisions. It provides a way to monitor and make sure that businesses are following the local rules,” MTAC member Michael Hughes said.

Recommendations for spacing standards include retaining a 1,000 foot distance for marijuana facilities away from schools and a 150 foot distance away from childcare facilities.MTAC voted in favor of no spacing standards between marijuana retail facilities and no spacing standards between retail facilities and parks and libraries.MTAC agreed that no marijuana-related business should be allowed in Residential Zoning Districts.

The Bend Parks and Rec District and Bend-La Pine Schools are making a case for more distance to the buffers regarding their respective entities.

“Bend is putting in regulations that allow people to operate in the industry and also protect public safety,” Hughes said.

MTAC met again on November 12 and discussed licensing agreements and tax ideas.

The committee voted in favor of recommending a three percent city tax in addition to the 17 percent tax mandated by Measure 91 for recreational marijuana businesses. The funds will be allocated to a general fund for City Council to determine best use. It is estimated that the 3 percent tax will result in approximately $200,000 according to Skidmore.

The Committee will continue discussing a plan for the 3 percent tax fund with one suggestion being an educational program to help youth understand the dangers of marijuana and realistic concerns of cannabis use.

“People are concerned about the increased exposure so this will be beneficial in addressing the concerns of the community and minimize the impact on youth,” Hughes said.

Per Measure 91 the 17 percent tax will be used for a Common School Fund, Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Services, state police as well as city and county enforcement of the measure.

MTAC has recently discussed licensing agreements and will finalize their suggestions at the December 3 meeting. Bend will have its own separate license with the city involved in the licensing of cannabis businesses. Beyond local licensing the OLCC process will be implemented.

The committee discussed security systems, lighting and hours of operation and reached terms that essentially adopted state law. They agreed that no display of paraphernalia will be visible from the exterior of businesses, according to Skidmore.

MTAC will be involved in a December 2 work session with City Council to discuss the land use proposals then the committee will make a licensing presentation to City Council on December 16.

(Photo above | Cascade Business News)

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David Clewett CBN Feature Writer

David Clewett is a writer and fly fisherman based in Sunriver, Oregon. He is a freelance journalist and poet with his most recent book being publish in late 2016 and two more collections of poetry expected to publish by the end of 2017. He enjoys hiking into and fishing the nearby lakes and streams of the Cascades and draws most of his inspiration from the clean mountain air and wildlife.

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