Ashland has received two business license applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in the days since a city ordinance allowing the dispensaries went into effect.

Ashland has received two business license applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in the days since a city ordinance allowing the dispensaries went into effect.

Top Shelf Meds and Siskiyou Medical Supply have applied to operate as medical marijuana dispensaries.

Top Shelf Meds will operate at 400 Williamson Way in an area filled with small businesses that border a residential neighborhood.

Siskiyou Medical Supply is already operating from a small room inside Puff's Smoke Shop, a bustling tobacco and marijuana paraphernalia store at 1908 Ashland St.

Wedged in between an Allstate tinsurance office and an H&R Block, Puff's Smoke Shop has been in business for more than 14 years, said owner Mike Welch.

Customers must show a medical marijuana card and valid state identification in order to buy marijuana, said Daniel Baldwin, the manager and bud tender.

Loose marijuana sold from jars costs $5 to $15 a gram, while a single chocolate marijuana truffle is $8. A small bag of Cannabliss Wafers retails for $20.

Baldwin said most medical marijuana patients have been buying marijuana to deal with chronic pain and nausea from cancer, fibromyalgia and other health problems.

A customer who wished to remain anonymous said he previously took marijuana extract capsules after he broke his back.

Using medical marijuana helped him stop using addictive opiate pain medication, he said.

Welch said he looks forward to more medical marijuana dispensaries opening in town, noting that he has a weeks-long backlog on inspecting and stocking incoming medical marijuana.

"It lightens the load and gives people choices," he said while serving customers. "There's more than enough business to go around."

Welch noted that Ashland likely will have only a handful of dispensaries.

A new Oregon law that went into effect this month requires dispensaries to be located at least 1,000 feet from schools and each other.

Dispensaries must be located in mixed-use, business or agricultural zones.

Last month, the city of Ashland created a map showing various swathes of town that are off-limits to dispensaries, largely because of schools and residential areas.

Welch said Siskiyou Medical Supply is located well away from Walker Elementary School and Ashland Middle School, but he was surprised to learn the business is 1,003 feet from The Siskiyou School, which operates on Clay Street under the Waldorf education model.

"I didn't know it was there," he said.

Welch said local landlords have been reluctant to lease property to dispensaries, which will further limit the number than can open in Ashland.

Welch said Oregon is in the midst of a revolution when it comes to marijuana.

Motioning to the rows of marijuana-filled jars, he said, "The amount of marijuana I have here could have put me away for life in the past. This is a fundamental change in policy for the state. We need to be responsible and present ourselves well. Our customers need to be responsible and present themselves well."

Health care practitioners have been able to prescribe medical marijuana in Oregon since 1999. Dispensaries that cropped up were largely unregulated and were often at risk of being shut down.

In 2013, the Oregon Legislature approved a new regulatory framework for dispensaries.

The state began accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries on March 3. It received 289 applications on the first day, including 18 from Jackson County.

Welch said Siskiyou Medical Supply was among those first applicants to the state. He said meeting the state standards has required a great deal of work.

Welch said legal dispensaries will help turn the marijuana trade into a legitimate industry, rather than a black market activity.

"Business people are bringing real money to this. They are treating it as an actual job and an investment," he said.

In early February, the Ashland City Council voted to remove language referring to illegal activities from its business license law so it would no longer be caught in the middle of conflicting state and federal marijuana laws. The rule change went into effect late last week.

Other cities, however, including Medford and Grants Pass, have moved to ban dispensaries.

During a short session that wrapped up earlier this month, the Oregon Legislature voted to allow cities to declare moratoriums on dispensaries for up to one year.

Asked whether moratoriums in other cities would cause Ashland to become the Amsterdam of Southern Oregon, Welch said he believes dispensaries in town will attract visitors.

"It will draw people to our area," he said. "Five to 10 Grants Pass customers are coming here each day. Grants Pass is not generating revenue and the patient is wasting money on gas. It's very short-sighted. A dispensary is like any other business."

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or Follow her at