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  • Shuttered marijuana dispensary fights closure

    Owner of Puff's Smoke Shop plans to reopen
  • The owner of a shuttered medical marijuana dispensary in Ashland has appealed a state decision denying him a license.
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  • The owner of a shuttered medical marijuana dispensary in Ashland has appealed a state decision denying him a license.
    Mike Welch, owner of the long-standing Puff's Smoke Shop tobacco supplies and marijuana glass pipe business on Ashland Street, had been operating a dispensary called Siskiyou Medical Supply inside his shop since late last year.
    He was told to close the medical marijuana dispensary on April 30.
    Welch said this week he has an appeal hearing in Salem on July 29 to contest the state's decision denying him a dispensary license.
    "Regardless of how things go with the state, we'll open within two or three weeks," he said.
    State law requires dispensaries to be located at least 1,000 feet from each other or schools.
    Puff's Smoke Shop is 990 feet from the Siskiyou School on Clay Street. The 1,000-foot boundary cuts across the counter of the small medical marijuana dispensary inside Puff's Smoke Shop, Welch said.
    "We always knew we were right on the line," he said.
    He argued that while Puff's might be less than 1,000 feet from the school as the crow flies, kids would have to scale rooftops in order to make a beeline for the shop.
    Welch said he will fight to reopen in his current location, but could also consider moving.
    Puff's Smoke Shop is located in a row of businesses. An H&R Block tax preparation business next door to Puff's falls outside the 1,000-foot school boundary.
    Meanwhile, on Aug. 5, the Ashland City Council is set to have a final vote on numerous city regulations to govern the operation and location of medical marijuana dispensaries in town. The state allows local jurisdictions to adopt their own laws on top of Oregon regulations.
    Siskiyou Medical Supply inside Puff's Smoke Shop would be allowed under city regulations that have been given preliminary approval by the council.
    The city's location regulations focus on setting up buffer zones between dispensaries and residential areas and barring them from the downtown since the state already bans dispensaries near schools.
    A dispensary proposed on Clear Creek Drive has won a provisional license from the state and would be able to open under proposed Ashland regulations.
    Another proposed dispensary on Williamson Way would be unable to open because it would border houses.
    Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.
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