Although 63 percent of Cannon Beach voters approved a state measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon, some residents say that does not indicate residents want a retail cannabis shop in town.
An initiative allowing voters to weigh in on whether recreational cannabis sales should be licensed in Cannon Beach will be presented to the City Council July 5.
In April, Cannon Beach officials declined to vote to ban marijuana facilities in Cannon Beach. Opponents of retail cannabis shops in the city gathered enough signatures to bring a November vote. The ballot petition was certified for the November ballot on June 14, with 155 valid signatures, according to Clatsop County Clerk Valerie Crafard.
Jeremy Randolph, Nancy Giasson and Marlene Laws were chief petitioners. Other members of the committee formed to refer the question to voters were Gary Laws and Molly Edison.
The committee members have differing views on cannabis outside of Cannon Beach, but they agree that a marijuana shop does not belong in town, said chairman Jeremy Randolph, a former county prosecutor.
“No matter where we are on the spectrum, we are all opposed to (a marijuana shop) in Cannon Beach,” Randolph said.
People were “more than willing” to sign the petition, Randolph said. It took about two weeks to gather signatures.
The council can either reject the initiative or ignore it on July 5, assistant city manager and city recorder Colleen Riggs said. The petition is presented mainly to inform council members that the committee has enough signatures.
After the July council meeting, the city will file the measure with the county elections officer and a vote will be held Nov. 8.
Pending the vote’s outcome, staff and city councilors are working to get time, place and manner restrictions on medical and recreational marijuana businesses in place.
“Depending on how the vote goes, we could either implement this or erase it from your ordinance,” City Planner Mark Barnes said to the City Council at a June work session. Cannon Beach municipal code prohibits licenses for businesses that are unlawful, illegal or prohibited by state or federal law. Since marijuana is not legal in federal law, the city cannot issue business licenses to marijuana shops. The draft ordinance has separate sections for medical and recreational marijuana, as state law currently does, although the two sections are nearly identical.
The draft requires a criminal background check by police for all applicants and others with a financial interest in the marijuana facility, and that the building comply with applicable laws and regulations for buildings and zoning.
The draft also requires the business to confine objectionable odors with an air filtration and ventilation system, and prohibits the use of marijuana and tobacco products on the marijuana facility site.
A medical marijuana facility cannot operate within a residence or mixed-use property, residential areas of various densities, estuary, open space and RV park.
By state law, the facility cannot be within 1,000 feet of a public or private school.
Although the draft restricted marijuana facilities in downtown and midtown limited commercial zones, leaving only the Tolovana Park limited commercial zone available, councilors had differing ideas about what locations to restrict.
Marijuana shops should be restricted from downtown to maintain the character and to not worsen traffic problems, Councilor Mike Benefield said.
“The nature of that (marijuana) business is not people stopping and shopping,” Benefield said. “We already have a parking issue in downtown.”
Councilor Melissa Cadwallader agreed that marijuana shops should be excluded from downtown, “the heart of the commercial area.”
Mayor Sam Steidel said he would restrict marijuana businesses from being downtown, and could see midtown and potentially Tolovana as possible locations.
Councilor George Vetter cautioned placing an additional “level of bureaucracy” on marijuana businesses.
“I’m not comfortable with us picking out a section of free enterprise and placing a bunch of rules and restrictions on that,” he said, adding that marijuana activity will not be publicly seen.
Councilor Wendy Higgins said she might prefer marijuana retail downtown, rather than in a residential area.
“If it’s going to be commercial, I would probably prefer it to be in the downtown area,” she said.