The Albany Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday to recommend denial of a proposed amendment to the Albany Development Code regarding land use activity related to controlled substances.

The proposed amendment arose from a new Oregon law that allows prospective medical marijuana dispensary operators to begin applying for state sanctioning March 3.

Albany Alternative Health Solutions plans to be one of the dispensary applicants, and the City Council had directed staff to draft a Development Code amendment that would prevent such dispensaries from operating in Albany.

The recommendation goes to the City Council, which is scheduled to consider the same amendment at a public hearing at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 26.  The Planning Commission has left the record open for written comments until that council meeting.

The proposed amendment is language to clarify existing language in the Development Code.  It is not a proposed ban on medical marijuana facilities but rather addresses controlled substances: “No parcel of land or structure may be used for, or in conjunction with, an activity that violates any state or federal law prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, dispensation, or possession of any controlled substance” as that term is defined by the United States Code.

Medical marijuana is allowed by Oregon law but remains illegal under federal law.

The Planning Commissioners did not comment on their decision. Twenty-one people testified in opposition to the new language,  and three testified in favor, including Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny.

City councilors Rich Kellum, Ray Kopczynski, Dick Olsen and Floyd Collins attended the meeting along with about 70 others in a standing-room only crowd.

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