- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Ashland City Council is getting ready to lift a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

It gave initial approval Tuesday and expects to take final action Aug. 5, Daily Tidings (http://bit.ly/1t4y3Er) reported.

The Legislature has approved medical marijuana dispensaries but allowed cities and counties to impose moratoriums lasting as long as a year.

The Oregon Health Authority lists 146 cities as having imposed bans, out of a total of 242, along with 26 of 36 counties. Most jurisdictions imposed the bans lasting until May.

The agency doesn’t keep track of cities that are ending their moratoriums quickly.

A spokesman for the Oregon League of Cities, Kevin Toon, said the organization is aware of only one other place that has acted as quickly as Ashland.

In the Southern Oregon town Gold Hill, council members who voted to end a moratorium are targets of a proposed recall election.

Dispensaries existed for years in a legal gray area until the Legislature acted to put them on a legal footing. But many local officials objected, and the Legislature then voted to give local officials authority to delay the openings.

The state has given provisional licenses to two dispensaries in Ashland, but city officials say one is too close to houses to open.

The second will need to get a conditional use permit. The new regulations would be effective 30 days after the council gives final approval. A conditional use permit could take at least 45 days.

The council has given a tentative OK to a tax of up to 5 percent on medical marijuana and a tax of up to 10 percent on recreational marijuana. An initiative to legalize recreational pot is on the November ballot.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/