Pubdate: Sat, 03 Oct 2015
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Damian Mann


Councilor Clay Bearnson Plans to Open Cannabis Store

A 17-month moratorium on medical marijuana sales will end Dec. 1 in 
Medford, the City Council decided Thursday night.

The ban on cannabis dispensaries will be lifted, but recreational 
sales will not begin until sometime in 2016 when the Oregon Liquor 
Control Commission develops its rules and regulations. Ballot Measure 
91, passed by voters last November, legalized pot for anyone age 21 or older.

Councilor Daniel Bunn supported the ordinance, which will require a 
second reading before taking effect, but expressed concern about 
allowing pot sales in the city.

"My great fear is that in 10 to 20 years, we've made a terrible 
public policy decision," he said.

Bunn said that if marijuana could be purchased in a store, he would 
be inclined to have an outright ban on outdoor grows within the city.

"If you can purchase marijuana at a dispensary, you don't need to 
grow it in your backyard," he said.

Councilor Clay Bearnson said he was planning to open his own 
dispensary and offer recreational sales in the future in Medford, but 
said he didn't think that would affect his ability to impartially 
vote on the ordinance.

Bearnson, a medical marijuana patient, said he sought guidance from 
the Oregon Government Ethics Commission before deciding to vote on the issue.

He also criticized the long-standing moratorium on dispensaries.

"The head-in-the-sand approach is not going to serve us well," said 
Bearnson, who made the motion to approve the ordinance. "Banning it 
for personal-bias reasons is not good stewardship of public money."

Bearnson said the city will open itself to legal challenges if it 
continues with the ban. In Jackson County, 12 dispensaries are 
operational in other communities, with all of them offering 
recreational marijuana as of Thursday.

The council spent almost two hours debating the issue, with many 
councilors expressing hesitation before casting their vote.

Five councilors voted for the ordinance and two opposed it.

"I don't think we should have marijuana - period - in the city of 
Medford," Councilor Dick Gordon said.

Gordon and Councilor Tim Jackle voted against the ordinance, which 
will open the doors to various types of businesses related to 
marijuana, including production, processing, labs and sales.

"I'm against lifting the moratorium," Jackle said. He has been 
consistently opposed to pot sales and pot grows in the city.

The council learned Thursday night that marijuana sales were taking 
place within the city limits, though the name of the dispensary, 
which has a state license, wasn't disclosed because of an ongoing 
investigation. Three other businesses have been shut down in the city 
of Medford for selling medical marijuana without a business license, 
which includes MaryJane's Basement, owned by Richard and Marlene 
Nuckols, as well as Patients Helping Patients and the Lounge, owned 
by Phil Carvalho. The Jackson County Circuit Court forced all three 
businesses to cease dispensing medical marijuana.

Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell said the city would take 
whatever legal action is necessary to stop the sales and would ask 
the state to revoke the medical marijuana dispensary license. 
McConnell said the city would deny the owner a business license in the future.

Willliam Mansfield, a local lawyer and Medford planning commissioner, 
said he wanted the council to oppose legalizing marijuana sales in 
the city, noting that he was making his comments as a private citizen.

"I start with the proposition that marijuana is a harmful product," he said.

He urged the council to put the issue before the voters of Medford or 
to take steps that would discourage marijuana businesses locally.

Bearnson asked Mansfield whether he wanted the council to create a 
series of bureaucratic hurdles that would limit the number of pot businesses.

"All my views are designed to impair marijuana use in the city of 
Medford," Mansfield said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom