COOS BAY — The local marijuana community notched another victory in its belt Tuesday night.
Coos Bay City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that allows marijuana processing in industrial and commercial districts.
Councilor Jennifer Groth said it was the council’s duty to approve the ordinance since voters had approved recreational marijuana sales in the 2016 November General Election.
“We need to honor that vote — whatever your personal feelings are about the issue — I wouldn’t feel comfortable necessarily voting against the public like that,” she said. “I’m in favor of continuing along the course we set to look for a correct way to allow marijuana processing.”
The decision concludes a six-month moratorium that began when the recreational marijuana ordinance went into effect back in December.
At that time, the council tasked Community Development Administrator Tom Dixon and the Planning Commission to fully assess the consequences of allowing the production of processed marijuana within city limits and placed the moratorium on all processing.
City staff then examined building code and determined what needed to be added in order to make the activity legally sound.
According to Dixon, staff also reached out to surrounding communities that already allowed processing and attempted to ascertain the impacts that came from it.
“Across the board, no adverse impacts or situations have been noted or documented that would cause marijuana processing to be treated any differently than any other industrial processing activity,” he said.
Oregon State Law defines the activity as the act of «processing, compounding or conversion of marijuana into cannabinoid products, cannabinoid concentrates or cannabinoid extracts» The methods can also involve chemical extraction of cannabinoids — the active compounds and constituents in marijuana — through water, oil, chemical or heat extraction.
City officials clarified that Tuesday night’s vote did not apply to commercial marijuana growth, which is still illegal within city limits.
“Commercial growth of consumptive plant products is considered an agricultural use and is not allowed in any zoning district within city limits,” Dixon said.
However, personal growth of up to four plants, for personal use only, is allowed in the city as prescribed under state law.
Dixon noted that the legal marijuana industry was heavily regulated by the state and that concerns over processing were largely overblown.
With the exception of two speakers during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting, the council and those in attendance were by and large in favor of the ordinance.
“At our first (city council) meeting we could have adopted this but we wanted to make sure it was vetted,” Mayor Joe Benetti said. “This is not just some knee jerk reaction, that’s why it’s back here now.”
The ordinance goes into effect next month.
According to city staff, inquiries have been made regarding opening facilities where marijuana would be processed but no paper work has yet been filed.
As the meeting came to a close, Benetti asked City Manager Rodger Craddock if individuals “could get high” off processed marijuana.
Craddock confirmed that it was indeed possible to obtain a high from the substance.