Medford police jumped the gun when they issued three citations to a Medford marijuana dispensary before the revocation of its business license has taken effect.

Medford police jumped the gun when they issued three citations to a Medford marijuana dispensary before the revocation of its business license has taken effect.

"We improvidently issued the citations," Councilor Daniel Bunn said.

Last week, the City Council voted to revoke the business license of Mary Jane's Attic and Mary Jane's Basement, which operates in the Winco shopping center on East Barnett Road.

However, the city needed to fine tune the revocation language and bring it back to the council for another reading on March 20.

Bunn said he believes the city had the authority to issue the citations under its existing code. However, he said the city wanted to make sure the license revocation was in force, along with a moratorium on dispensaries.

"We're just trying to be clear and up front about this," he said.

Bunn said Mary Jane's business license application didn't specify that it would be dispensing medical marijuana. He said a previous license application for another business of the owners of Mary Jane's was denied because it would have sold cannabis edibles.

He said patients who need marijuana have other avenues to obtain their medicine. Patients could go to Ashland, where the city has enacted an ordinance that opens its doors to dispensaries, he said. Grow sites are also legal in Medford under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, Bunn said.

Bunn said the city's stance is based on federal law.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana is in the same category as heroin, a Schedule I drug. Under federal law, marijuana receives a worse rating than methamphetamine and cocaine, which are considered Schedule II drugs.

Richard Nuckols, owner of Mary Jane's, said he had the understanding that the city's revocation would not take place until March 20, so he was stunned when he received separate $250 citations on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"This seems like bullying tactics and harassment tactics on the part of the city," he said.

Nuckols said he's been discussing with his attorney the possibility of appealing the City Council's revocation of his business license to the Jackson County Circuit Court.

"We've got to stand up for our rights and our patients' rights," he said.

Nuckols said he is hopeful that he will receive a license from the Oregon Health Authority in the near future to operate a medical marijuana dispensary. House Bill 3460 was passed by the Legislature to clear up legal ambiguity about the ability of dispensaries to operate in the state under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. Prior to HB 3460, about 200 dispensaries operated in a legal gray area.

Leland Berger, a Portland lawyer representing the owners of Mary Jane's, said he doesn't think the city had the authority to issue the citations.

"The city code provides that while the appeal is pending, the revocation is stayed," Berger said.

He said he called the Medford city attorney's office on Monday to protest the issuance of the first citation at the direction of Lt. Kevin Walruff, saying he spoke with deputy city attorney Lori Cooper.

"I told her he was acting rogue," Berger said.

Berger said he spoke with deputy attorney Kevin McConnell on Wednesday and was informed the citations would be dismissed.

On March 20, council will have a second reading of an ordinance that declares a permanent moratorium on pot dispensaries in the city, retroactive to March 1, the date HB 3460 took effect.

Berger said the city is making it more difficult for marijuana patients to access their medicine safely.

"The moratorium is the most anti-public-safety thing a city can do," he said.

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