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Medical marijuana: Some doors open, others close

By Wanda Moore
Published On: Apr 01 2014 09:16:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 02 2014 12:37:27 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Wanda Moore spoke with opponents and supporters of medical marijuana. The legal grey area is keeping lawmakers and dispensary owners on edge.

BEND, Ore. -

"It feels really thrilling," said Jeremy Kwitt, owner of Bloom Well, the second state-licensed dispensary in Central Oregon. "It's really exciting to be part of a regulated supply system."

While Kwitt is celebrating in Bend, medical cannabis is still a very controversial topic.

The city of Redmond joined Sisters and other communities around the state Tuesday night as city councilors voted 6-1 to impose a 13-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, until state lawmakers take up the issue again next year.

"It's a legal issue," Mayor George Endicott said earlier Tuesday. "My opinion is that we are liable if we break federal law."

The Obama administration has said it won't interfere with states on this issue, local lawmakers are among those wondering if the next president will think the same.

Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Oregon, but illegal at the federal level.

On Monday, the Oregon Health Authority banned the sale of marijuana-infused candies and packaging, designed to appeal to children.

It's a legal back-and-forth that has some local authorities concerned, even confused.

"I think the feds are failing in their responsibility," Endicott said. "If the federal government would move marijuana from a Class 1 to a Class 2 drug, then it would put it in the same realm as things like morphine."

But medical marijuana supporters say cities like Redmond shouldn't be worried.

"That's not really a constitutional problem," said Don Duncan, California director with Americans For Safe Access. "States have the leeway to experiment and implement safe access programs. There's never been a situation where the Supreme Court has tried to reverse these state laws."

Duncan also said states can force the federal government into action by pushing the medical cannabis issue.

Meanwhile, those who say they truly need medical marijuana are caught in the middle.

"They finding relief from pain," said Redmond City Councilor Ed Onimus, whose no vote last week delayed the council's decision. "I think it goes to quality of life. You should be able to live free of pain. They live in Redmond. Let's help them in Redmond."

The Sisters City Council voted 5-0 last week to join in the temporary ban, or moratorium -- but also to send a measure to the November ballot to ask Sisters residents if they would support medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Madras, Prineville and La Pine have enacted or are considering a similar year-long ban, as did Deschutes County commissioners for the unincorporated areas of the county. Bend, meanwhile, has a growing number of dispensaries. seeking state licensing; two have been licensed so far.

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