It took Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, John Lindsey and Will Tucker less than a minute Tuesday morning to approve placing consideration of a moratorium on allowing medical marijuana dispensaries at their April 2 meeting agenda.

After the meeting, county administrator Ralph Wyatt said the board was taking advantage of a new law that allows government bodies to place a moratorium on whether or not to allow dispensaries until May 1, 2015. If a moratorium is not enacted, permitted dispensaries could open after May 1 of this year.

A county moratorium would only apply to unincorporated areas. The cities of Albany, Brownsville and Corvallis in Benton County are already dealing with the issue, and there are applicants who wish to open dispensaries.

“The hope is that in a year, things will be more clear,” Wyatt said.

Nyquist said he does not know if anyone in the county has applied for a permit —  addresses of proposed shops are not public record — but the board has received a few emails from medical marijuana proponents.

One person noted that “all a ban would do is force people to spend their money in another county, and or drive them underground in this county. Either way, Linn County loses.”

Another wrote, “I do not see the need to ban dispensaries in this county. Many people have medical cards that they have paid lots of money for to be able to use cannabis legally. It is not about getting high, it is about relief from pain and suffering that many older people are seeking. I am one of them and use capsules and tincture for my benefit.”

Lindsey said he has talked with people who are “worried about gangs being behind this. There are already problems with this in Washington state and Colorado. Are we going to be seeing this in the woods? I think this is a city issue.”

Lindsey said medical marijuana cards are too easily obtained and he’s concerned that marijuana might easily end up in the hands of the county’s young people.

The Albany City Council is expected to make a decision on two ordinances that focus on medical marijuana dispensaries at their meeting today at 7:15 p.m. at City Hall.

The council is also considering a moratorium until May 2015 and an ordinance that would allow dispensaries, but with regulations much like taverns in terms of hours of operation and zoning, in particular distances from schools and residential neighborhoods.

The city also would charge an annual fee, with funds used to make sure the businesses are operating legally.

Alex Paul is the Linn County reporter for the Democrat-Herald. He can be contacted at 541-812-6114 or alex.paul@lee.net.

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