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Marijuana dispensary may go to voters

Banned in Medford, business considers ballot initiative
 Posted: 2:00 AM July 07, 2014

The owners of MaryJane's Basement, shut down by the city of Medford, are gearing up to ask voters to overturn a local ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

"That's the end of their legal battle for safe distribution for cannabis," said Leland Berger, Portland attorney for Richard and Marlene Nuckols, owners of MaryJane's.

In May, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Gerking upheld the city of Medford's decision to revoke the business license of MaryJane's Attic and Basement.

Licensed to dispense

Eight marijuana dispensaries in Jackson County have received licenses from the Oregon Health Authority. One of those, in Ashland, has asked the state to not release its name.

• THC (Not operating), 21901 Highway 62, Shady Cove, 323-632-7277

• Going Organic LLC (not operating as a dispensary yet but does sell other products), 10546 Highway 62, Suite C, Eagle Point, 541-826-2476

• Breeze Botanicals (operating as a dispensary), 315 Second Ave., Gold Hill, 541-855-8797

• MaryJane's Basement (not operating), 259 E. Barnett Road, Medford, 541-690-1542

• Lime Green (not operating), 17 S. Riverside Ave., Medford, 541-324-3052

• Green Valley Wellness LLC (operating as a dispensary), 103 S. Pacific Highway, Units B-C, Talent, 541-535-3022

• Talent Health Club LLC (operating as a dispensary), 1007 S. Pacific Highway, Unit E, Talent, 541-897-4111

Gerking found that the landmark Oregon Medical Marijuana Act is in conflict with federal law.

Relying on a previous Oregon Supreme Court employment case involving medical marijuana use, Gerking wrote that the state law is unenforceable because it conflicts with federal law.

In his ruling on the Medford business, Gerking said substantial evidence also showed that MaryJane's wasn't operating lawfully under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.

Berger said he didn't agree with Gerking's ruling but said his clients decided it wasn't in their best interest to pursue an appeal.

"They are exploring political efforts to have the ordinance overturned through an initiative," Berger said, adding that the city's ban on dispensaries is forcing otherwise law-abiding citizens to seek their medicine in the underground market.

The Nuckols plan to apply for a new business license with the city of Medford in July, Berger said. The Nuckols had a separate business, MaryJane's Attic, that sold clothes, jewelry and other items.

Seven marijuana dispensaries in Jackson County have received licenses from the Oregon Health Authority, but four aren't actually operating. According to the Health Authority website, another dispensary in Ashland has received a license, but the owner has withheld the name of the business.

Only Gold Hill and Talent currently have operating dispensaries in Jackson County. Several cities, including Medford and Phoenix, have enacted moratoriums that block them from operating.

A citizen's group has attempted to place an initiative on the ballot in Phoenix to overturn that city's moratorium. According to the City Recorder's Office, the initiative failed to qualify because of a procedural issue. Initiative supporters have the option of filing a new petition.

Another marijuana dispensary, The Greenery in Phoenix, is continuing its legal fight after the city successfully shut down the business.

In June, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ron Grensky issued an injunction to force The Greenery to comply with city law.

The Greenery had been dispensing marijuana at 310 N. Main St. in Phoenix since January without a state license. It had operated previously in Ashland for about two years.

Berger, who also serves as attorney for The Greenery, filed a motion on June 27 asking Jackson County Circuit Court to find the Phoenix moratorium invalid because the city didn't follow its own rules in writing an ordinance.

Andrea Adams, owner of The Greenery, said the closure of her business has been a hardship on patients and herself.

"It is an incredibly difficult situation to be in with the mounting legal bills and no income coming in," she said.

Adams said she is still committed to finding some way to reopen her store in Phoenix, which is closer to many of her patients.

"It's not about the money," she said. "We've been operating and fighting to provide safe access to patients."

While some dispensaries are struggling, others are thriving.

Michael Johnson, manager of the Talent Health Club at 1007 S. Pacific Highway, Unit E, said his dispensary has been open for about a week.

"It feels fantastic," he said. "We want to set the standard. We want to raise the bar and do everything to get the highest quality we can."

Johnson said his operation sources medical marijuana from some of the best growers in Southern Oregon.

Johnson said the Talent Health Club will follow all state and local regulations in the operation of its business.

"With this new industry, everybody needs to step it up and follow the letter of the law to a 'T'," Johnson said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.


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