Changes to the Klamath Falls city code were approved Monday night by the city council, narrowing the areas where cannabis can be processed and manufactured within city limits.
The changes limits processing and manufacturers to industrial and light industrial zones and requires recreational and medicinal marijuana to be out of public view. The changes would require those who process marijuana in areas not considered industrial zones to relocate their operation.
The council held two public work sessions earlier this year on the topic of marijuana regulations, and directed staff in mid-June to formalize the proposed changes into an actionable document.
Land use regulations
State law actually requires all regulations to be in compliance with the citys Community Development Ordinance, said Joanna Lyons-Antley, city attorney for Klamath Falls. Our land use regulations specifically state that processing and manufacturing of goods and services are to be done in industrial and light industrial areas.
The changes have not been officially adopted, but could be finalized with a second reading in November.
Medicinal marijuana patient and grower Brandon Neff was one of several individuals who spoke out at the meeting.
Neff told council members he has been processing marijuana into cannabis oil in his home kitchen for the past four years for medicinal marijuana patients, such as those with cancer. But with changes approved by council members on Monday, he will have to find a new location for processing.
Processing and manufacturing have long been allowed in commercial zones but are not in this ordinance, Neff told council members.
Passing this ordinance would be taking another step backwards for the progression of Klamath Falls.
Neff believes the changes go too far in its restriction.
Access to utilities
He said he visited each of the proposed sites listed on a city map of industrial zones and believes the boundaries set by the council are too restrictive. Neff believes more than 75 percent of the sites are located on undeveloped land that do not contain access to utilities.
I feel the proposed ordinance is once again discriminating against medical marijuana advocates, Neff told council members. This is far from reasonable regulation as state law requires. Im willing to comply, but council is making it harder than its ever been.
A Better Way Medicinal Alternatives owner Ed Medina Jr. also expressed concern, specifically to the effect of the code changes for his medicinal marijuana dispensary on South Sixth Street.
Medina claims the changes to code make it extremely hard to secure a developed site for a processing operation, and estimates it could hurt his business operations and access for patients.
As 99 percent of this state goes recreational, which we cant, we cant buy products from them, Medina said. If we are not allowed to make these products here locally, the patients will not have them. Without products, we dont exist. Well have to close.
The dispensary remains open, but Medina emphasized the need to have processing operations close by.
There are many, many very ill patients in this community that rely on these products, Medina said. Were the only safe access in this entire county for those people. Without us, they have to drive to Medford or Bend or some other area.
Klamath Falls Mayor Todd Kellstrom also weighed in.
The ordinances more clearly define what councils goals were, Kellstrom explained following the meeting. The state Legislature; their rules are broad and theyre changing all the time.
It made it more simple for us to enforce, Kellstrom added.
Councilwoman Trish Seiler agreed.
We still need to be careful about how this industry grows out in the Basin, Seiler said. Its our job to keep tabs on it.
Lyons-Antley further explained the actions of the council are within its rightful use of Home Rule as a municipal government.
State law actually does allow cities and counties to impose reasonable regulations on a whole host of different things relating to marijuana, Lyons-Antley said. Processing sites, dispensaries, access, location.
Regulations do not change the law, Lyons-Antley added. Regulations help interpret and implement the laws passed by the Legislature. We amended the location restrictions to include 1,000 feet from a college or university, she added. It is a change to match federal law.
Regulations for medical marijuana processing were also added, which include no processing or storage of products in an area that can be seen from a public place, according to Lyons-Antley.
For a full list of modifications to city code, and public comment, view the full city agenda online at klamathfalls.city.