Dissent Delays Redmond Medical Marijuana Dispensary Moratorium


On March 25, the Redmond City Council voted 5-1 to begin a one year moratorium on issuing business licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. This less than unanimous vote requires the council to vote on the issue again at their April 1 meeting – where a majority vote of the council will constitute passage of the measure. 

Councilor Ed Onimus was the dissenting vote. Onimus shared an impassioned plea to his fellow councilors to re-consider their stance on supporting the proposed moratorium. Onimus went on to highlight his personal concern with his 20 year old son who has “uncontrolled epilepsy” – where available prescription medicines don’t help. He also opined about the results of the “war on drugs ”as costly, something akin to a dismal failure, and has resulted in incarcerating a population of people – many of whom need not be incarcerated.”

Onimus also spoke toward the mixed message the Council will be sending to the local community in terms of the Council’s routine public declarations to “buy locally and support our local merchants – now we are telling people to go to Bend to purchase their medical marijuana?”

During the public testimony segment of the meeting, Lois Sweet of Redmond approached the podium. She used a walker and wore a torso brace. She shared with the Council she suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and that her spine is fused from “my head to my tailbone.” She became allergic to standard pain medicines prescribed by her doctors. Sweet said the pain medicines were destroying her colon – prompting her to explore alternative remedies for her suffering.

 “I am now a participant in life,” she declared, since beginning to use medically approved cannabis in 2009. She closed her remarks with: ”I want to keep my business local – here in Redmond. I want to spend my money locally – not in Bend.”

Redmond resident Andrew McLaughlin declared the Council’s consideration of the moratorium ordinance as “reactionary and regressive.” Ken Matlock of Redmond directed his comments toward Redmond Mayor Endicott’s position that “allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Redmond is a violation of Federal law and our oath to uphold the Constitution.”

Matlock pointed out that Oregon has had legislatively approved “right to die” laws operative for many years – in clear contradiction to existing federal law. In fact, Matlock pointed out, the “right to die” choices have been – and are being made – by Redmond residents, their physicians, St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond, and Redmond based convalescent and hospice facilities. “What’s next? Are you going to take this right away from us too?”

After the conclusion of public testimony, yet before the Council vote, Onimus shared one final plea with his fellow Councilors: “Before you vote, please consider this: “How would you vote on this issue if the person suffering was your wife, your child or yourself?”

After the vote, Councilor Camden King clarified that, upon passage, “we are not saying that medical marijuana dispensaries will not be allowed to operate within the Redmond City limits forever – but just during the one year moratorium – during which time the City will explore the best practices to do this right.”


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