The Ashland City Council approved a temporary moratorium that blocks medical marijuana dispensaries in the downtown business district and in the Williamson Way neighborhood, but allows Puff's Smoke Shop on Ashland Street to continue operating its dispensary.
Councilors unanimously made the decision on Tuesday night.
Councilor Pam Marsh said she hopes the moratorium will only last three or four months — long enough for the Ashland Planning Commission to continue its review of potential regulations on dispensaries.
For now, new dispensaries will not be able open downtown or in employment zones within 100 feet of residential zones. (See correction, below.)
The latter restriction means a dispensary proposed in an employment zone at 400 Williamson Way cannot open anytime soon. The dispensary would be in an employment zone and is located next to a residential neighborhood. Neighbors had objected to the dispensary's proposed location.
Dispensaries will be allowed in commercial and manufacturing zones, as well as employment zones that border arterial streets, which are well-traveled, busy roads.
Puff's Smoke Shop — a tobacco and marijuana paraphernalia store — is in an employment zone along Ashland Street, an arterial street.
Siskiyou Medical Supply operates in a small space inside the shop, dispensing medical marijuana.
Representatives from Top Shelf Meds, proposed on Williamson Way, said they have invested money in the dispensary they hope to open. They have researched putting up more vegetation to screen the dispensary from neighbors and have also looked for a new location.
Williamson Way resident William Clary was among the neighbors voicing opposition to a dispensary on the street.
He said people enjoy walking and riding bikes in the neighborhood, which cannot handle the traffic that would be attracted by a dispensary.
"It just would not be appropriate in our neighborhood and others like it," Clary said.
Bone and skin cancer patient Eli Jaxon-Bear of Ashland said medical marijuana has helped him withstand chemotherapy treatment and bone marrow transplants, and avoid opiate prescription medication, including morphine.
He said dispensaries allow patients to safely access medical marijuana.
"This is my medicine. It works for me, and it's saving my life," Jaxon-Bear said.
Siskiyou Medical Supply inside Puff's Smoke Shop will be able to continue serving the public, Councilor Carol Voisin said.
At least six medical marijuana dispensary applications for Ashland are pending before the state government.
Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature granted local jurisdictions the authority to enact moratoriums that can stretch until May 1, 2015.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that the moratorium applies to all employment zones within 100 feet of residential zones.