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Gold Hill, Phoenix councils wrestle with marijuana dispensary issues

 Posted: 4:10 PM May 20, 2014

On separate sides of the valley — both to threats of recall and after emotional audience testimony — city council members for Gold Hill and Phoenix adopted changes to business license ordinances Monday that will pave the way for each city to deal with future marijuana dispensaries.

A stark contrast, one audience favored medical marijuana in their town while the other was adamantly opposed.

For Gold Hill, after hours of public testimony largely against a planned dispensary called Breeze Botanicals, council members approved revisions to its business license ordinance that will allow dispensaries to operate inside city limits.

If passed for a second reading June 2, the ordinance change would immediately lift a yearlong moratorium enacted last month.

Breeze Botanicals owner Brie Marlarkey said she was pleased with the council's decision but frustrated by citizen fear and misinformation about medical marijuana.

Malarkey also voiced concern about a council discussion of assessing a 5 percent fee against all medical marijuana related sales to fund public safety.

In Phoenix, following audience pleas for council support of an existing non-profit dispensary, Phoenix council members approved a business license ordinance that would delay opening — but ultimately allow — medical marijuana dispensaries properly licensed under state law.

City Manager Steve Dahl said a court injunction was filed on Monday against the non-profit dispensary, The Greenery, which he said had been operating illegally since opening its doors early this year.

Dahl said some two dozen audience members spoke between 8:30 and 10 p.m., with comments focused largely around residents' support for the dispensary to remain open. But Dahl said the council had ordered city staff to enforce a yearlong moratorium.

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