Third time was not the charm for Pendleton City Councilman Al Plute, but he still got what he wanted in the end.

Plute made three separate motions to approve zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries at a Pendleton City Council meeting Tuesday night, all of which failed.

But a motion made by Councilman Chuck Wood following Plute’s last attempt did pass council muster, although city officials said dispensaries will not be able to open until the council changes Pendleton’s business license laws, which prohibit businesses in violation of federal law.

The amendment to the city’s development code allows medical marijuana dispensaries in central mixed-use and service-commercial zones as long as they are not within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school, a public park, another marijuana facility or a community facility primarily attended by minors.

The new regulations do not address recreational marijuana.

Deliberations over the regulations took more than two hours, with some councilors arguing the city should wait until the business licensing laws were changed while others said the zoning regulations should be passed as soon as possible.

Momentum seemed to shift several times before the council settled on a decision.

At one point, Wood had a motion to postpone further council consideration until June 16 while city staff worked on a business license proposal. He later withdrew the motion.

Plute grew visibly frustrated as his motions continued to be rebuffed. While his first two motions died for lack of a seconding vote, he changed his tactics with his third attempt to allow the regulations to only go into affect after a business licensing law was passed.

His motion drew the support of McKennon McDonald, but no other councilor, as the motion failed 2-5. Councilman Neil Brown was absent from the meeting.

By the time the council voted down Plute’s third motion, most of the council had swung in the other direction and wanted the regulations passed immediately.

Wood made a new motion, which passed 7-1, with Councilwoman Becky Marks voting against.

Later in the meeting, the council looked at a draft ordinance from the League of Oregon Cities that would impose a special business license for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The councilors suggested city staff look into stricter signage requirements, background checks into all employees working at dispensaries and a THC level test for product being sold.

Regardless of what new operational regulations city staff comes back with, a new business license law will not receive the vote of Councilman Tom Young. He said he would not vote for any city law that would be in violation of federal regulations.

Lastly, the council unanimously passed an ordinance that would ban obstruction and annoyance on the Pendleton River Parkway and all adjoining bridges.

The law was pared down from an earlier draft, which would have applied the ordinance to all public walkways.

The ordinance had an emergency provision, which means it goes into effect immediately.


Contact Antonio Sierra at or 541-966-0836.

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