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Jackson County blocks medical marijuana dispensaries for a year

 Posted: 11:45 AM April 02, 2014

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners gave final approval Wednesday to a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, blocking at least one dispensary that had hoped to open between Phoenix and Medford.

The moratorium lasts until May 1, 2015.

It applies to unincorporated land in the county, not inside the limits of cities, which are taking their own stances on the dispensary issue.

Noah Soule, who lives outside Talent, said he now won't be able to open his proposed dispensary between Phoenix and Medford for at least a year.

He estimated he's invested at least $10,000 and countless hours on the proposed business, including more than $3,000 for county land-use fees and $4,000 for a state dispensary application.

Soule said dispensary businesses could become vital parts of the local economy and community, while also providing medicine to medical marijuana patients in a safe, professional setting.

Disabled veteran and Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cardholder Jesse Kelley of Medford said he has had difficulty finding a grower to supply him with marijuana. He said dispensaries would not be dangerous.

"I don't see where the threat is," Kelley said.

Commissioner John Rachor said a moratorium is needed because the county still has many issues to resolve concerning dispensaries.

Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said unintended consequences of dispensaries must be considered, such as adults smoking marijuana in public, especially around children.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions," he said.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature granted local jurisdictions the authority to enact moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries that can last until May 1, 2015.

The Oregon Health Authority is in the midst of processing hundreds of applications for new dispensaries around the state after it began accepting applications in March under a new regulatory system.

— Vickie Aldous


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