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Medford won't allow pot dispensaries; says they violate federal law

 Posted: 5:35 PM October 14, 2013

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 prior to the rule-making process.

"I think it's a huge overreaction," Buckley said. "I think the fears are unreasonable."

Read more about the city's arguments and others' reactions in Tuesday's Mail Tribune.

— Damian Mann

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