ONTARIO, OREGON -- A month after a controversial Oregon law allowing the sale of medical marijuana has gone into effect, some cities are taking a stand against it.
House Bill 3460 passed last August, making medical marijuana dispensaries legal throughout Oregon.
But on March 19, Senate Bill 1531 was signed into law. It gives local governments the ability to pass restrictions involving the operation of dispensaries, and even ban them for a year.
Each jurisdiction has the opportunity to decide on the issue before May 1st.
On Monday night, Ontario City Council members voted unanimously to ban the dispensaries until May of 2015.
During the City Council meeting, four people testified for three minutes each, all speaking out against the ban.
After little discussion and a quick vote the seven City Council members voted in favor of a moratorium.
One of the people who testified was Stormy Ray.
She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1980s and says she was close to dying when a friend introduced her to medical marijuana.
,p> The compassionate act my friend did has been done all over Oregon to thousands of patients who didn't know the value of this medicine, said Ray.
It's emotional issue for Ray, who says she's one of 60,000 patients in Oregon registered to use marijuana for treatment.
We are some of the sickest people in Oregon, come on! We need a medicine supply place to go and get what we need, said Ray.
Ray was one many who pushed to pass House Bill 3460, and says now this is a step backward. She said without the dispensaries, it's more difficult for patients to get a hold of the product.
They threw all those patients back out to the black market that's unregulated, uncontrolled, said Ray.
Ray says now patients will have to grow marijuana themselves or find it from other growers.
But City Council member Ron Verini says Ontario simply wasn't ready.
He says he heard from more people against the dispensaries than in support.
Verini says the city wants to make sure police patrols and regulations are in place first, especially since Ontario is a border town.
We want to be good neighbors, and to be good neighbors we want make sure we have all our T's crossed and I's dotted, said Verini.
Verini says the city simply needs more time to research the issue and set up the right system. He understood the patients' concerns and wished there could have been more discussion on the issue.
I want to at least have an open mind and see if we as a community can accommodate those who absolutely do need it, said Verini.
Malheur County also passed the ban a few weeks ago, and the Vale City Council is expected to vote on the issue at its meeting Tuesday night.
The city attorney says there has been interest in starting dispensaries in Ontario, but those applications have now been put on hold.