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Ontario, Ore. Pushes Back Against Marijuana Dispensaries as New Pro-Pot Law Goes Into Effect

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Don't expect to see marijuana dispensaries, wholesalers or retailers in Ontario, Ore. anytime soon.

Citing "public safety" concerns, the Ontario City Council voted July 16 to ban all marijuana dispensaries within city limits. The Ontario Argus Observer reports that the vote, which came as an emergency resolution, followed a standing-room-only work session that included Idahoans from Payette and Washington counties.

Council members said the ban was passed as an emergency resolution because Oregon law does not allow the prohibition of marijuana dispensaries that can be grandfathered into the new ruleā€”as long as the dispensary is abiding by local land use laws. 

Oregon's recreational marijuana law went into effect July 1, allowing adults age 21 and older to legally possess and use recreational marijuana. Public use is illegal, but adults 21 and older can use recreational marijuana at home or on private property. Oregonians are not allowed to take their marijuana out of state.

The new law does give cities and counties the ability to decide for themselves whether certain marijuana activities should be allowed, with an option to ban dispensaries if at least 55 percent of a community's voters oppose the pro-pot rule. Last November, more than 68 percent of Malheur County voters and more than than 63 percent of Ontario voters said they opposed the legalization of marijuana.

While the Ontario ordinance bans dispensaries, it does not apply to personal cultivation or possession of recreational pot, or the use or cultivation of medical marijuana by valid Oregon card holders.