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MailTribune.com
  • Gold Hill Council bans pot dispensaries

    Temporary moratorium meant to offer time for city to draft future ordinance governing facilities
  • GOLD HILL — Medical marijuana dispensaries will be temporarily banned in Gold Hill until city planners have time to draft regulations governing them, the City Council decided Monday.
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  • GOLD HILL — Medical marijuana dispensaries will be temporarily banned in Gold Hill until city planners have time to draft regulations governing them, the City Council decided Monday.
    The council voted to place a moratorium on the dispensaries for up to one year as allowed under state law in order to give city planners time to define specific restrictions for such facilities.
    But the council members' discussion indicated they would not oppose the eventual opening of dispensaries.
    City Manager Rick Hohnbaum said he expected a dispensaries ordinance would be drafted possibly within weeks or a few months and that dispensaries would then be able to make applications to open.
    "The moratorium will lift as soon as an ordinance is in place," Hohnbaum said.
    "The state allows a moratorium for up to one year, but you must have one in place by May 1 if you're going to do one at all."
    Councilor Donna Silva made a motion to issue the 12-month ban with councilwoman Chris Stanley seconding the motion.
    The ordinance was favored by councilors Gus Wolf and Margaret Dials. Doug Reischman voted against the moratorium and Councilor Lorraine Parks was absent.
    Hohnbaum said councilors directed city staff to draft the ordinance as quickly as possible because potential business owners recently expressed interest in opening dispensaries.
    During a workshop held prior to the Monday meeting, councilors discussed ordinance parameters such as hours of operation for cannabis-related facilities, distance from residential areas and specific zones in which the businesses could operate.
    Brie Malarkey, who applied March 3, the day state licensing began under Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program, hopes to open a dispensary and gift shop near Figaro's Pizza near the south entrance to town.
    In attendance for the Monday meeting, Malarkey voiced frustration that the council didn't approve a business license — even conditionally — and raised concerns that the city would implement additional restrictions.
    Malarkey said she is hesitant to complete $45,000 in repairs to her planned facility before having a business license in place but said she faced state requirements in the meantime.
    "I would be lying if I said (Monday night) wasn't hard for me," Malarkey said in an email to the Mail Tribune. "The result was a combination of acceptance from the Council while at the same time fearing dispensaries with only state oversight."
    Malarkey said she worried "if in fact the Council will repeal the moratorium."
    "This leaves me with deadlines that will probably expire and invalidate my application with the State at this time," she wrote.
    Hohnbaum said he had every faith that the council would lift the moratorium after an ordinance had been approved.
    City staff should provide a draft version of the proposed ordinance in time for an April 7 council meeting.
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.
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