Marijuana dispensary in Phoenix will fight to stay open
PHOENIX — The city has asked medical marijuana dispensary The Greenery to voluntarily cease operations within one week or face legal action, but Andrea Adams, executive director of The Greenery, said she plans to keep her doors open until they are forcibly closed.
Phoenix City Manager Steve Dahl said Friday that the city sent a certified letter to The Greenery, a nonprofit resource center for medical marijuana patients on North Main Street, requesting it close down by Friday, May 16.
Dahl said The Greenery has operated illegally since January and the city could not allow the business to remain open.
"It is operating against our rules and against state law, so we have to do something so that laws are respected," Dahl said.
"We're asking them to close voluntarily. If they do it voluntarily, it will be done by the end of next week. If they require an injunction, it will obviously take longer."
The Phoenix City Council voted 5-1 Monday to seek an injunction. Councilors Bruce Sophie, Carolyn Bartell, Stan Bartell, Karen Jones and Chris Luz voted in favor, while councilor Terry Helfrich was opposed.
The Greenery opened in January and provides resources, organizers say, to connect medical marijuana patients who are permitted to use cannabis under state law.
Siskiyou Medical Supply, located inside Puff's Smoke Shop in Ashland, was ordered to close earlier this week after being cited by Ashland police for selling marijuana without a state license.
In light of the Ashland closure, Adams called The Greenery "the last safe access point in Southern Oregon" and said she would "stay and fight."
"Without The Greenery, patients in Southern Oregon will have no safe access to the medicine they depend on and would have to go to Klamath Falls or Eugene," Adams said.
"My position as the executive director — and all of our position as patients helping patients — is that we will be there serving patients until we are forced to stop. And we will continue to fight for patients for as long as it takes."
Earlier this year, Phoenix Police cited The Greenery 33 times for operating without a business license, but the tickets were dismissed by the city's Municipal Court.
Phoenix Municipal Judge James A. Wickre said in March The Greenery could not be cited for failure to obtain a business license because city codes prevented the business from receiving one.
The city enacted a four-month moratorium on medical marijuana facilities in March, then passed a year-long ban in May.
Helfrich said last week that he favored safe access to medical marijuana and felt citizens had vocally supported The Greenery during public hearings.
Councilor Stan Bartell said The Greenery had ignored the city's rules and did not possess a state license to operate.
"The Greenery has been operating illegally outside of the city municipal code and state law and federal law. ... Clearly they have defied everything we have done to this point, but I think that the City Council is pretty united on what we're doing and where we're at right now. "Hopefully we don't get involved in a lawsuit, but more than likely that's where we're headed," Bartell said.
Dahl said he had requested a $50,000 allocation for the coming budget session to cover any legal fees associated with efforts to shutter the dispensary.
Melanie Barniskis, office manager of The Greenery, said it was disappointing to see the city focus "so much energy" on closing a business that citizens support.
"We feel that restricting safe access in Southern Oregon is a disaster, and we encourage every citizen with interest in this issue to attend the next City Council meeting on May 19, or contact The Greenery if there are other ways you would like to help," she said.
"At this point, we feel like we're back in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and medical marijuana patients are being asked to drink from the water fountains out back all over Southern Oregon. We want the city to have to look into the eyes of each and every patient they are trying to deny."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.