Pubdate: Sat, 14 May 2016
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2016 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Damian Mann


Clay Bearnson Believed to Be the First City Councilor in the State to 
Own Pot Shop

A member of the Medford City Council, known for its tough stance on 
legalized marijuana, has opened his own dispensary.

Clay Bearnson is believed to be the first city councilor in Oregon to 
own a cannabis dispensary, though that could not be immediately 
confirmed by the Oregon Health Authority.

"That feels pretty cool," Bearnson said.

Bearnson and five partners opened Oregon Farmacy at 1 W. Sixth St., 
Suite 104, in the Acme Building facing Evergreen Way, about two weeks 
ago. A grand opening is planned later.

It is the third dispensary within city limits, joining Patients 
Helping Patients and Kush Gardens.

As councilor, Bearnson has championed removing city laws opposed to 
medical and recreational marijuana sales. After taking office in 
2014, Bearnson declared he had a medical marijuana card and hoped to 
open a dispensary. He also grows marijuana, some of which is 
dispensed at his new store.

His favorite strain at the moment is Snoop's Dream, which features a 
mix of the rapper Snoop Dogg's preferred strains, Blue Dream and OG Kush.

While Bearnson, who also owns the Gypsy Blues Bar, appears to be the 
first city councilor in Oregon to own a dispensary, Jake Boone, a 
Cottage Grove city councilor, was formerly manager of Apothecaria in that city.

Dispensaries within city limits currently sell medical marijuana 
only, but voters in November will decide whether to allow 
recreational sales of pot, which was legalized by Ballot Measure 91 in 2014.

Bearnson said his goal is to provide local products at the 
dispensary. His mother, Sue Hefner, also a partner, grows some of the 
cannabis on display in the shop. One of Bearnson's friends, Matthew 
Noyes, is also a partner.

"It's a family affair," Bearnson said. "This is 100 percent locally 
owned and operated."

He said he hopes to get more products on the shelves that are 
manufactured locally.

Some of the six partners involved in Oregon Farmacy will each take a 
turn operating the dispensary. Bearnson manned it himself Friday.

With his strong pro-marijuana stance and his announcement that he 
would open a dispensary, Bearnson has been criticized for voting on 
pot issues before the council.

"Some people say, 'He should resign,' or that what I'm doing is 
corrupt," Bearnson said.

Bearnson said he checked with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission 
to make sure he could vote on these issues. However, now that he has 
a license to dispense marijuana, Bearnson said he would recuse 
himself from voting on the issue in the future.

He said he has made passionate attempts before the council to dispel 
the effects of 100 years of propaganda about marijuana.

"To be honest, I've been up against the good ol' boy network to let 
them see the light," he said.

If Medford voters approve recreational sales of cannabis along with a 
local 3 percent tax, Bearnson said he would seek the necessary 
permits to sell recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana.

Other councilors haven't criticized Bearnson, though they have ribbed 
him on occasion.

"They'll say something like, 'Is that a regular brownie?' " Bearnson 
said. "It's all good humor. No harm, no foul."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom