REDMOND, Ore. - The Redmond City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday night to ban marijuana dispensaries within the city limits, but that won't enough to make it happen right away. In order for the ordinance to pass in one shot, meaning a first reading, second reading and vote, there needed to be a unanimous yes vote.
The lone no vote came from Councilor Ed Onimus. He cited the need for some people to have access to medical marijuana. He shared a story of his son, who has been battling epilepsy for the past 20 years.
"The little white pill does not help him," Onimus said. "There are some studies that suggest that medical marijuana might be able to help him."
Medical marijuana became legal in the state in 1998, but it is still illegal under federal law. The combination of the two has left cities in limbo, choosing whether to go with state law and violate federal laws.
At the end of this year's legislative session, lawmakers agreed to allow cities to place a moratorium on licensing medical marijuana facilities until May 1st, 2015. The catch is municipalities have to enact the ordinance by May 1st of this year. State lawmakers hope to then have the conflicting issues sorted out next year.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott told the council Tuesday night he supported the moratorium. He cited the oath city leaders took to uphold the Constitution and federal laws.
"If we do something like this, to allow medical marijuana in our city, then we are then violating our own oath, and to me that's unacceptable," Endicott said.
Testimony during a public hearing found a majority of those speaking against the ban, with several telling how medical marijuana helps them cope with their illnesses.
Before the council voted, some members said they would like to see the city take the next year to look into the effects of medical marijuana dispensaries. Councilors now will hold a second reading at their April 1st meeting.
Deschutes County has already passed a moratorium. Sisters city councilors will talk about the issue at their next council meeting on Thursday night.