Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

We agree with Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner that the City Council should start discussing the regulation of marijuana stores, even though the city's current ban on medical marijuana outlets continues until May 1, 2015.

But we also believe that in the end this matter has such significant potential ramifications that it should be decided by the city's voters, not just its seven elected councilors.

Recent history in Oregon suggests that the public and the politicians don't always agree on marijuana issues.

In 2010 the state's voters rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries.

But three years later the Oregon Legislature approved a bill, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed, that allows medical pot shops.

That law prompted dozens of cities, including Baker City, to impose one-year moratoriums on such shops.

By November there might be even more at stake than stores that sell marijuana to only those residents who have a medical marijuana card - about 65,000 people, including 247 in Baker County.

That's because voters will decide in the Nov. 4 election whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, not just medicinal purposes, for people 21 and older.

If voters approve the measure, then cities likely will have to deal with the possibility of stores that sell marijuana to any adult, not just those with a medical marijuana card.

Although Lohner has suggested the City Council consider not only an outright ban on marijuana stores, but also possibly a business license ordinance that would accomplish that purpose, we're leery of the latter approach.

In particular we don't think the city, which does not require a general business license now, should create one, especially if such a license came with a fee. We don't need to discourage existing businesses by increasing their operating costs.