In Jackson County, 18 applications were filed on Monday for medical marijuana dispensaries, the third-highest number in the state behind Multnomah and Lane counties.

In Jackson County, 18 applications were filed on Monday for medical marijuana dispensaries, the third-highest number in the state behind Multnomah and Lane counties.

The Oregon Health Authority received 289 applications statewide Monday, with 200 coming within an hour after the program launched in the morning. According to the Health Authority, 135 applications came from Multnomah County and 41 from Lane County.

Monday marked the start of a new medical marijuana dispensary program established by House Bill 3460. Prior to the law, passed last year, dispensaries operated in a legal gray area.

Health Authority officials had anticipated up to 200 applications on the first day, but Tom Burns, director of pharmacy programs for the Health Authority, said he wasn't surprised at receiving almost 300. His department has received 1,300 individual inquiries, and almost 200 dispensaries were already operating in the state, he said.

As a result of the demand, Burns said he will need to add more inspectors to tour the state to make sure dispensaries are operating within the law. The Health Authority currently has two inspectors, and Burns said he would have to add at least one and possibly up to three.

He said he may shift other Health Authority employees to help process the applications, but doesn't anticipate hiring more workers.

By Tuesday, the number of applications being filed had dropped off significantly, he said.

Burns said he couldn't provide any estimates as to how long it would take to process an individual application, though applications will be dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis.

Burns said the Health Authority is looking for guidance from the Legislature about whether local communities can ban dispensaries.

Medford, for instance, has banned dispensaries, but at least three dispensary applications from Medford are pending with the state.

"At this point in time, we're obligated to approve them and let the business owner and local government duke it out," Burns said.

The Legislature is still wrestling with Senate Bill 1531, which would give local governments the option of banning dispensaries.

The Health Authority will make every effort to verify that a dispensary isn't located within 1,000 feet of a school.

The Greenery in Phoenix, which filed an application Monday, calculates that it is located 1,017 feet from a school.

Burns said that inspectors will be sent out to verify the distance, particularly if it's within about 100 feet of the 1,000-foot limit.

The straight line, or "as the crow flies," distance will be measured from the corner of the property owned by the school to the closest point of the footprint of the dispensary business, Burns said.

At least three dispensaries in Medford that have filed applications with the state could have a difficult time with the city over business licenses: Patients Helping Patients on Main Street, Lime Green on Riverside Avenue and Mary Jane's Attic and Mary Jane's Basement in the WinCo shopping center on East Barnett Road.

Mary Jane's has a business license, but the city wants to revoke it. The Medford City Council will discuss an appeal of the license revocation at 7 p.m. Thursday at 411 W. Eighth St.

Richard Nuckols, owner of Mary Jane's Attic and Mary Jane's Basement, said he sent his application to the state Monday.

"I'm sure it will take a few weeks for them to gather and process the applications," he said. "It will be interesting to see how they do it."

Klamath Falls lawyer Phil Studenberg said he's advised his client at Patients Helping Patients not to take any consideration for medical marijuana exchanges until there is better clarity about the legal issues.

"He's not conducting a business now," Studenberg said. "It's just a place for people to gather."

Studenberg said both Ashland and Klamath Falls have enacted ordinances that allow the issuance of business licenses to dispensaries.

He said House Bill 3460 was designed to provide safe access for medical marijuana throughout the state.

Medford's ban creates a constitutional problem under the Equal Protection Clause, Studenberg said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow him at