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MailTribune.com
  • Gold Hill to reconsider pot-shop moratorium

    Entrepreneur hopes change in rules will enhance business, but others wary of backing off of ban
  • GOLD HILL — The Gold Hill City Council approved a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries last month, but it will vote today on whether to rescind the moratorium and allow the city's first legal dispensary, Breeze Botanicals, to open.
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  • GOLD HILL — The Gold Hill City Council approved a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries last month, but it will vote today on whether to rescind the moratorium and allow the city's first legal dispensary, Breeze Botanicals, to open.
    Brie Malarkey, owner of the business, worked with city planners to help draft the proposed ordinance and hopes to see the moratorium removed. But members of a local church have taken issue with Malarkey's proximity to a their church and her involvement in drafting the ordinance.
    Malarkey moved into a vacant portion of the city's Gold Dust Center, near the town's southern entrance, in January and plans to open May 15 with or without the addition of marijuana-based remedies. The shop will provide herbal remedies, food and bath products.
    Since signing her lease, Malarkey said, she has invested more than $40,000 in the business, including state licensing fees and security equipment.
    "We have all of our family savings invested in this business because I really, really believe in this. I would be lying if I said I didn't wish they would have just allowed the state laws to regulate me, but I'm trying to be patient and allow the council to go through its process," she said.
    "I don't believe in operating in those gray areas of the law, so it's really important to me to have the blessing, or at least an OK, from the city."
    Some local residents have voiced support for the new shop, but members of Harvest Time Fellowship, located two doors away, are opposed.
    "We are opposed to it because the city had pretty much made its decision before we ever came into the picture," said Pastor George Wilson, who said he opposes the dispensary portion of Malarkey's business, not the entire business concept.
    "It feels like it was kind of a done deal before anyone knew about it. It seems a conflict of interest to me that the owner of the business wrote her own ordinance allowing her to be in the same building as the church and in close proximity to houses and parks."
    Gold Hill Pharmacy owner Alex Frum, who signed a petition opposing any dispensaries in the town, said his primary concern was the city's lack of law enforcement.
    "I'm opposed to it primarily because we don't have a police force here. We do have coverage by the sheriff and by the state police, but we don't have a city police force, and a lot of businesses and myself have had more problems since we haven't had any police," Frum said.
    Councilor Chris Stanley, who said she had no issue with Malarkey as a business owner, wants the city to slow down.
    "A lot of cities opted for the moratoriums to give the state time to figure out how this is supposed to work, so I'm not sure Gold Hill is any more equipped to decide something sooner than these other cities," Stanley said.
    Stacy Macy, owner of a downtown salon, said she would attend the meeting to support Malarkey and "much needed" new businesses in the city.
    "I think it's going to be really great for this town. I hope it brings in new people that will mean new business for me and the other business owners," Macy said.
    "With the church here being so up in arms about it, what's the difference between church people being over at the bar and people being inside her business? It's just like anything else, the government has to regulate it, and as soon as they get it all figured out and they're getting their cut, it'll be just fine."
    Stanley said she hoped citizens would attend the meeting to offer input.
    "If my constituents want this, then so be it. If not, then I'll go that way, too. I just feel like this is too big and too controversial of an issue for six people to decide on their own."
    Council will meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 420 Sixth Ave.
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com
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