A former Phoenix councilor is leading a petition drive to overturn the City Council's four-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

A former Phoenix councilor is leading a petition drive to overturn the City Council's four-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

"The marijuana issue is not my interest," said Steven Schulman, who was a councilor in 2005, "My interest is in keeping a good business in Phoenix."

The business is The Greenery, which dispenses medical marijuana and has been fined $100 a day for continuing to operate without a business license.

Schulman is the chief petitioner on the referendum and hopes to qualify it for a September ballot by obtaining 261 signatures before the moratorium takes effect April 3.

If he gathers the signatures, the moratorium would be placed on hold pending the outcome of the referendum, he said.

Schulman said he is not a medical marijuana patient himself, though his wife is authorized to receive a medical marijuana card, but hasn't followed through with it.

His main interest is in keeping The Greenery in town because he said it is a well-run business.

"They have done everything in their power to show they're good neighbors," he said. "They've offered to put on parades and picnics. The council has treated them — to use a nice old-fashioned word — shabbily."

Schulman said he is also part of an effort to recall Mayor Jeff Bellah that he said is gathering steam. Signs stating "Think Recall" have been sprouting up around Phoenix, he said.

Schulman said the recall effort is partly about The Greenery, but also has to do with other issues, such as the dismantling of urban renewal.

On Saturday, the first day of signature gathering, 28 residents in 14 teams gathered at least 120 signatures, Schulman said.

"I had hopes for a better outcome," he said. More signatures were being gathered Sunday.

Bellah said he's confused by the need for the referendum because The Greenery has been operating without a business license anyway.

"They've never qualified to be a dispensary yet," he said. "They've actually been operating for eight months, and we've never given them a business license."

Bellah said the city hasn't taken a stand firmly against dispensaries, but does want four months to study the issue, which he said has been referred to the planning department.

The Greenery is just one business that wants to open its doors in Phoenix, so the city needs to have the appropriate ordinance drafted to deal with them, he said.

"Is there a way to make this work?" he said. "Can we in four months reach a consensus about changing the charter, changing the ordinance?"

Bellah said he believes that marijuana does have some medicinal value.

He said the city has delayed enacting the moratorium because it's waiting for Gov. John Kitzhaber to sign Senate Bill 1531, which gives cities the authority to have moratoriums on dispensaries for up to a year. The city of Medford enacted a permanent moratorium, making it retroactive to March 1.

Bellah said he's not familiar with any recall effort, though he has seen the "Think Recall" signs in a couple of places around town.

Schulman was his opponent in the 2012 election. Bellah received 67 percent of the vote to Schulman's 33 percent.

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