Medford tightens stance on marijuana dispensaries

Medford dropped the legal hammer on marijuana dispensaries Thursday, with the City Council vowing to issue citations and go to court to shut down existing operations.

The council unanimously approved a permanent moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and revoked the business license of MaryJane's Attic and MaryJane's Basement.

City Manager Eric Swanson said the city will cite businesses that continue to operate as dispensaries and is prepared go to court if necessary.

The owners of MaryJane's said they, too, are prepared to go to court and plan to take legal action in Jackson County Circuit Court on Monday in hopes of preventing the license revocation from taking effect.

The ordinance follows an effective ban on medical marijuana dispensaries adopted by the council in September in anticipation of state legislation that cleared the path for the dispensaries to operate in Oregon.

The state Legislature later approved a bill giving cities the option to place a one-year moratorium on allowing dispensaries. Medford, however, has gone beyond the state law by making the moratorium permanent.

Medford officials say they are relying on the city's Home Rule authority to create the tougher rules, although the local ordinance likely will be tested in the courts.

MaryJane's, located in the Winco shopping center, received a business license on March 9, 2012, from the city of Medford. The business has two stores — one a dispensary and the other offering everything from hemp clothes to jewelry — with both operating under the same license.

Medford police issued three citations to MaryJane's recently, but the citations were dismissed because the business license revocation hadn't taken effect.

Kevin McConnell, deputy city attorney, said the city will take steps, including issuing citations, if MaryJane's continues to dispense medical marijuana.

Medford police say MaryJane's owners said they wouldn't dispense marijuana at their business when they applied for the license. Owners Richard and Marlene Nuckols, however, said they provided the city with a business plan that indicated they would help patients receive access to medical marijuana.

Another marijuana-related business in Medford, Patients Helping Patients, located on East Main Street, has received 10 citations from the city for operating without a business license. Each citation carries a $250 fine.

Medford resident Robert Soltz criticized the council for taking action that will make it more difficult for medical marijuana patients to safely obtain their medication.

He said the council is questioning the validity of using marijuana to treat patients with debilitating illnesses.

"They are calling all of us liars," he said.

At the same time, the city allows tobacco and alcohol to be consumed and sold, he noted.

"These are substances that kill hundreds of people every year," Soltz said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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