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Government and Politics

More Than 150 Oregon Cities, Counties Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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Local governments in Oregon had until Thursday to enact a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

More than 150 cities and counties in Oregon have already taken advantage of the ability to ban them. One city has sued the state because they want to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdiction permanently.

Cave Junction officials say they should have the right to permanently ban pot stores since marijuana remains illegal under federal law. They filed a lawsuit in state court Wednesday.

Medical marijuana advocates have cringed at the bans. But they point out that storefront operations are allowed in the state's largest cities including Portland and Eugene.

Leland Berger, an attorney who advises marijuana businesses, says towns that ban dispensaries will simply drive medical marijuana patients to illegal dealers.

"It means that patients who don't have the wherewithal to go to a place where they can have safe access to the medicine, it means that they'll get it from the underground market."

The state has granted more than 70 dispensary licenses. Oregon lawmakers could decide next year whether to extend the moratoriums or allow them to expire.