Umatilla County puts moratorium on medical pot facilities

Umatilla County puts moratorium on medical pot facilities
FILE -- In this file photo taken April 4, 2013, marijuana plant starts are seen at a growing facility in Seattle. One of the U.S. Justice Department's top concerns in allowing Washington and Colorado to move forward with plans to legalize and tax marijuana sales is seeing that the states keep criminals out of the industry. But the DOJ itself is refusing to let Washington run national background checks on those applying to run legal pot businesses, The Associated Press has learned, and those who have received the first legal pot licenses have done so without going through a national background check. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
UMATILLA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS NEWS RELEASE -- In their Wednesday morning meeting, the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 to place a moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana facilities in Umatilla County. The moratorium, permitted by the recent Oregon law, had to be enacted by May 1, 2014 if the County felt a need. Otherwise, medical marijuana facilities could be authorized at any time by the Oregon Health Authority. The moratorium, by law, expires May 1, 2015 unless rescinded earlier.

Following on the heels of the Board’s decision, Board Chairman Bill Elfering took immediate steps, as promised in the meeting, to appoint a committee to study the issue and determine if regulations or restrictions could possibly be drawn under which some kind of assistance could be provided to those with a legitimate need for medical marijuana. Some medical professionals have indicated that marijuana may be beneficial in certain cases. Appointed to the committee were County Commissioner George Murdock, Umatilla County Public Health Department Manager Sarah Williams, Umatilla County Planning Department Manager Tamra Mabbott, County Counsel Doug Olsen, and Undersheriff Jim Littlefield.

“The committee’s task is a difficult one,” Elfering said. “It will weigh the complexities of the issue considering what is legally possible and recommend what action, if any, the Board of Commissioners should take.” No timeline has been suggested for the committee.