Ashland's first medical marijuana dispensary, Siskiyou Medical Supply, has reopened in a new location.
The dispensary opened in the back of Puff's Smoke Shop late last year, but was told to close on April 30.
State law requires dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet from each other and schools. Puff's is 990 feet from the Siskiyou School on Clay Street. The 1,000-foot boundary cut through the dispensary's counter.
Owner Mike Welch moved the dispensary operation approximately 500 feet down the road to 1796 Ashland St.
After appealing the state's decision to deny him a license in July, Welch says that the state has approved his new location and that the dispensary is open for business while he waits for the official certificate to arrive in the mail.
"We opened a week ago for a soft opening," Welch said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I'm making sure that everything is good to go for our customers and that the state is happy with me."
The City Council lifted a moratorium on medical marijuna dispensaries and passed ordinances regarding operating regulations and taxes at its Aug. 5 meeting. While the ordinances officially take effect on Sept. 4, City Administrator Dave Kanner says that Welch is able to open from the city's standpoint.
"He has a business license and he's made his application to the state," Kanner says. "There isn't a city application for his dispensary yet, but we always knew something like this could happen."
City officials made an inquiry to the district attorney's office to make sure Welch's dispensary was legal and were told that, as long as he has applied and hasn't been rejected, he is allowed to operate. Kanner says that, as long as Welch is approved by the state, he simply needs to be compliant with city regulations by the time they take effect.
Two other dispensaries have been given provisional licenses from the state to open.
One planned on Williamson Way will be unable to open under the new ordinance due to its proximity to houses. The other, planned for Clear Creek Drive, could be allowed and can apply for a city permit when the new ordinance takes effect. Attempts to reach operators for both dispensaries for comment were unsuccessful.
Customers at Siskiyou Medical Supply are happy the dispensary has reopened.
"It keeps us legit," says Bobby Maley, a Medford card-holder who finds Siskiyou Medical Supply more affordable than dispensaries closer to him. "Without these dispensaries, patients might have to resort to buying our medicine illegally on the street. This is a safe place for us to get our medicine."
Another customer, who wished to remain anonymous, says that the reopening of the dispensary has been overdue.
"I don't want to take capsules or pills," he says. "They make me comatose. I can function on (medical marijuana). There's too much 'managed care' in this country. I'd rather be healed."
As of Aug. 15, the state has received eight applications from prospective dispensary owners in Ashland, five of which were rejected.
Email reporter Ian Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 253-722-4071. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/IanHand_DT.