Councilors can shorten moratorium at any point

The Forest Grove City Council approved a one-year moratorium on allowing medical-marijuana facilities in the city — but not before hearing passionate testimony against the delay and confirming that councilors could end it early if they so chose.

At their Monday meeting, councilors heard four people oppose the moratorium, which gives cities until May 15, 2015, to prepare for possible criminal, legal or community ramifications that might arise with the establishment of a medical-marijuana dispensary. Most Oregon cities are adopting the temporary delay.

Community Development Director Jon Holan confirmed to councilors that they could approve the moratorium, but stop it any time they feel the city is ready for such a business.

Police Chief Janie Schutz has asked for time to train officers in drug recognition for possible “driving under the influence” stops and also to consider other potential problems.

The ability to shorten the moratorium is “key to my support,” said Councilor Victoria Lowe, who spoke of the benefits of medical-marijuana.

Her comments echoed those from Thomas Hubbell of Beaverton, who testified how medical marijuana helped his injured sister manage severe pain. Families need “safe access” to medical marijuana that has been tested and approved according to government standards, he said, asking the council to shorten the moratorium to four or six months.

Judith Ecker-Cornett of Forest Grove asked councilors to make “good, safe medicine available” and spoke of how important medical marijuana is to family members with cancer, epilepsy and other serious health problems.

“I want my town to be leading the way in health,” she said, adding that it’s a misconception that “people can always find marijuana” because “there are many, many sick people who can’t find growers.”

Her husband, John Cornett, said the medical-marijuana program is not for “crazed addicts” but for “good, decent human beings who sit right beside you, work with you, go to church with you.”

He asked councilors to “please allow Forest Grove to be a leader in this area of healing ourselves.”

He also suggested an openness to medical-marijuana facilities would match the city’s “business-friendly reputation.”

Councilors Camille Miller and Richard Kidd acknowledged the need for medical marijuana and were glad to know the council could shorten the moratorium if necessary.

Councilors Tom Johnston and Ron Thompson will attend a medical-marijuana summit in Portland Thursday.

The moratorium passed 6-0.

“I was very delighted with their response,” Cornett said after the vote. He’s had nasty reactions from other people when he talks about medical marijuana, he said. “I was expecting them to say yes to a moratorium and tell us to take a hike. I wasn’t expecting them to be so genuinely concerned about us.

“I was almost in tears.”

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