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City's new committee begins drafting regulations for cannabis businesses

The City of Bend has appointed a 10-member Marijuana Technical Advisory Committee to guide it in adding a third, local layer of regulation of Oregon's new cannabis businesses. The City describes its pending regulations as "reasonable time, place, and manner regulations" and hopes to have them in place by Jan. 1 2016. The Committee will meet several times over the next few months (details are available on the City's website), and its task, as Council Member Victor Chudowsky put it in addressing committee members at the inaugural meeting on Sept. 17, is "to help us figure out what legalized cannabis in Bend should look like."

The City's regulations will include a new chapter of the City's Development Code and a new licensing regime on top of the licenses already required for cannabis businesses by the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The rules in the Development Code will, according to City Attorney Mary Winters, address issues such as where businesses can locate when doing production (growing), processing, wholesale and retail sales, and laboratory analysis of cannabis samples. The regulations will also impose a minimum distance between cannabis retail stores, something the City has made no attempt to do with breweries or bars.

The City's cannabis business licensing rules, like those of other state authorities, will address operational aspects of the businesses. For retail stores, according to Winters, this will mean rules for operating hours, display of products, disposal of remnants, and similar matters. The license will need to be renewed annually. And of course, these City requirements will be in addition to the general City law that all businesses obtain and display a City business license.

The OLCC will eventually have complete statewide regulatory authority over adult-use cannabis businesses, and the OLCC is not expected to release its much-anticipated draft regulations until the second week in November. Those regulations are expected to address things such as store operating hours and co-location of different business processes (e.g., growing or processing at the same site as retail sales), so the City Committee may have a difficult task of not creating duplicative or conflicting rules.

At last Thursday's meeting, City representatives stated that they wanted to craft "balanced" regulations, but the City seems to be attempting to regulate anything left out of the forthcoming OLCC regulations. Fortunately, the Committee seems to include a broad set of perspectives, so it seems likely that both the needs and potential impacts of cannabis businesses will be considered in the Committee's deliberations. Nevertheless, I have a hunch that cannabis stores in Bend will not be allowed to stay open as late as the bars.

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