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Just been collecting my thoughts, got back to Portland from Carlton a little while ago. I want to start off by saying thank you to AT for his detailed and accurate recap of the hearing. I think today was a victory, and I'm relieved the Ordinance wasn't passed. From my perspective, the City Council seemed dissuaded from passing the Ordinance due to the threatened ACLU lawsuit, and also due to the hearty public showing against the Ordinance. My gut tells me that the City will not end up passing the Ordinance at the next hearing. However, it's still "on the table."
As AT suggested, the City Attorney and Mayor brought up pursuing a strategy of amending the OMMA with support from the League of Oregon Cities, in order to address their concerns regarding public safety (keeping mmj out of the hands of children), public nuisance ("the offensive smell"), and garden compliance enforcement. I had a chat with the City Attorney and Police Chief after the hearing, and they notified me that the next hearing on April 5th should attract a lot of media attention, so a good turnout by the movement would be quite beneficial. And as AT mentioned, the City Council will also be accepting written comments on the Ordinance, so write away.
There was only one member of the public that testified in favor of passing the ordinance, and everyone else that testified in the small, packed building was against it. We were even backed up by Elmer Dickens, a Senior Attorney from Washington County, familiar to us as the opposing counsel from the *Willis *CHL case. Mr. Dickens warned the City against proceeding with the ordinance, in light of the fact that the City had drawn the attention of the ACLU and NORML, and that a lawsuit contesting the validity of the ordinance could come with a potential price-tag of over a million bucks, which the small city wouldn't be able to afford. As AT mentioned, the City Council was clearly unfamiliar with the language of the OMMA and the administrative rules, which provide adequate safeguards and procedures to address their concerns. For one, the City Council seemed largely unaware of the procedures that law enforcement may follow to access the OMMP registries to confirm that a grow is registered and compliant with state law, and that local police may obtain a search warrant through the courts as necessary if they have probable cause that crime is afoot, etc. I told the Chief of Police, and the City Council to contact the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department for advice and training regarding proper enforcement of the OMMA.
The Ordinance's specific permitting requirements entailed a grow-site limit of 200 sq. feet per patient/caregiver card, 10 foot limit for height, and a mmj production lighting limit of 4800 watts per grow. The requirements for the issuance of a permit through the Ordinance were so unduly restrictive because they were composed under the City Council's mistaken belief that lawful gardens must be limited to 6 mature plants & 18 starts, which is not even close to the legal limit! ( i.e. that an individual grower may maintain a garden that stacks 4 patient/primary caregiver cards for a total of 24 matures is clearly contemplated as legal within the framework of the OMMA, pursuant to 475.320 subsection 2.)
Another legal issue addressed was the authority of the city to pass the ordinance at all, due to either state or federal preemption. When I testified I carried with me the recent California Appellate decision *Pack v. City of Long Beach*, which stands for the proposition that: "to the extent that a City Ordinance permits and regulates medical marijuana rather than merely decriminalizing specific acts, the Ordinance is preempted by Federal law." This case, along with at least two others from the recent crackdown on California's dispensaries are on their way to the California Supreme Court, and will likely be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court thereafter. Notably, our side in the *Pack* decision relies heavily on the rule and reasoning from Lee Berger and John Lucy's recent landmark Oregon Supreme Court victory, *Willis v. Winters. *I urged the City Council to let the California court system work through the City Ordinance/Permitting issue, and save all of us the costs of litigation. Regarding state preemption legal issues, you'd want to talk to one of the MMJ attorneys, either Lee, Brian, John, or Paul.
Addressing AT's last point, I agree that we need to speak with one voice regarding our demands for legal change. As Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Too often we debate particulars amongst ourselves, forgetting that we face a strong, united, and well-funded, industrial-strength opposition. We need to loosen ourselves from our entrenched positions, realize that we are on the same team, and work democratically and neutrally through a representative body to achieve consensus. I like the idea of Sajo's Super P.A.C. We cannot afford to let "the perfect" be the enemy of "the good" any longer, or we will miss the window of opportunity of this election year. The political winds will not blow in our favor like they are this year possibly ever again. If we fail to appreciate the opportunity knocking in 2012, we will face a reality where we will see the OMMP go the way of Montana's once thriving medical marijuana program, may it rest in peace.
The best way to protect patients and safe access is to legalize. We're going to get our asses handed to us sooner than later if we don't seize the opportunities of 2012. We need to build momentum, and ensure that CSLE and OCTA make the ballot. I say we focus on changing the "no consideration" language of OMMA for starters, so farmers can be paid, patients can access medicine, patient resource centers can keep their lights on, and everyone can pay their bills and provide for themselves and their families. We need to hammer out a framework that is fair for all stakeholders, and make sure that nobody is thrown under the bus when the time comes for the legislature to develop a commercial framework. It's time we adapted to pragmatism, and the reality of the situation that we are in, acknowledging that as human beings we may be self-interested, and that what we see as truth flows only from our relative, subjective perspective. This doesn't make other people better or worse than us, it only means that they have to deal with different shit.
None of us should have to live and work on a purely volunteer/pro bono basis. Money is our greatest weakness, as individuals, and collectively. As a movement we fail to appreciate it's usefulness to us in terms of reforming the law, and fail to appreciate how much more difficult we make our own lives and the lives of our fellow freedom fighters by viewing the dollar so deviously. I think that if we change the 'no consideration' language, the movement will be a lot more cooperative and compassionate with each other, and a lot more productive at making change. Alright, I think that's plenty for now.
- Bradley Steinman