Medford Oregon Bans Marijuana Dispensaries

OREGON: Absolutely no medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in Medford despite a state law that makes them legal next year, city officials have decided.

MaryJane’s Attic in the WinCo shopping center received a revocation of its business license on Sept. 26 for dispensing marijuana, according to Medford police Chief Tim George. Owners of MaryJane’s declined to comment.

Dispensing medical marijuana violates federal law and currently violates state law, George said.

“I don’t see how you could license unlawful activity,” he said.

The City Council on Sept. 5 unanimously approved expanding an ordinance to deny or revoke a business license if the business is in violation of local, state or federal law. Previously, the ordinance only described how the business had to be conducted in a lawful manner.

The city had previously revoked business licenses for Southern Oregon NORML, Puffin’ Stuff and The Green Compass in May after raids by police.

George said the ordinance will address Oregon House Bill 3460, which will authorize opening state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries next year but allow some latitude for local jurisdictions to create their own regulations.

A state committee is in the process of generating rules for HB 3460 that will be rolled out next year.

After the rules are in place, George said, “The city will be relying on federal law.”

Under existing state law, Oregon’s 55,000 medical marijuana cardholders can grow pot themselves or find a person to grow it for them. The new law offers an additional option of purchasing medicine from state-regulated medical marijuana retail outlets.

Rep. Peter Buckley, an Ashland Democrat who helped craft HB 3460, said it’s premature for local governments to pass ordinances before the rule-making process.

“I think it’s a huge overreaction,” Buckley said. “I think the fears are unreasonable.”

Buckley said the state attorney general and the Oregon League of Cities both have endorsed HB 3460, which attempts to create a professionally run network of dispensaries throughout the state that will help cut down on the black market.

Buckley said members of law enforcement are on the committee that will be devising the rules for the House bill.

“I encourage people to take a deep breath and work with the rule-making process,” he said.

Buckley said it is premature for clinics to set up shop to dispense medical marijuana ahead of the rule-making, though he said the Portland area already has dispensaries.

An outright ban on dispensaries in a community is not the intent of the House bill, Buckley said.

“To me, again, it seems like a very extreme move,” he said.

He said there are many state laws that potentially conflict with federal law.

Theoretically, Buckley said, a law enforcement officer could arrest a medical marijuana cardholder for violating federal law, though that doesn’t generally happen.

Councilor Bob Strosser, who voted for the ordinance, said, “I don’t think we want to be in violation of any laws.”

He said there are contradictions between federal and state law that need to be reconciled and are a potential “train wreck.”

“The contradictions are what is troubling,” he said.

Marijuana advocates decry the efforts by the city to rely on federal law rather than on HB 3460.

“We’ve put out a battle cry across the state,” said Lori Duckworth, who formerly ran SONORML. “We’re going to try to hit this head on.”

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