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Medford awards first license to dispensary

Medford's first legal medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors to customers Monday after getting a business license from the city.

"It's a lot better than having to watch your back in the alleys," said customer Mike Sletten, a 57-year-old Medford veteran with back problems.

Sletten, a former parachutist who blames his spinal problems on jumping out of airplanes too many times, was one of the first patients to walk into Patients Helping Patients, 2390 W. Main St., and he ordered two different strains for his medical problems.

He said he lives a short distance from the dispensary, preferring to buy it there than from other sources where the marijuana isn't tested and where he isn't sure about the quality.

Phil Carvalho, owner of Patients Helping Patients, said, "This will be a lot more convenient and appealing to all the local people."

On Oct. 2, Medford City Council lifted its ban on cannabis dispensaries, effective Dec. 1. The council may ask voters next year whether they approve of selling recreational marijuana in the city and whether it should be taxed at 3 percent. Any dispensaries that open in the city will not be allowed to sell recreational marijuana.

As of Monday morning, only Carvalho had submitted an application with the city for a business license for a dispensary.

Most dispensaries in Jackson County now sell recreational marijuana under a temporary law passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is working on rules governing recreational sales that should take effect in January. Ballot Measure 91, passed by voters last November, legalized pot for anyone 21 or older.

Carvalho said he will not be selling recreational marijuana, though he had been receiving calls from customers inquiring whether he did.

"It sucks because the state says we can do it," Carvalho said.

Patients Helping Patients carries about 30 strains from a local grower, with prices ranging from $5 to $12 per gram. Carvalho is selling many of last year's varieties at a reduced price. The newer strains are obvious to the casual observer because they have a brighter green color.

In addition to Patients Helping Patients, the other two medical marijuana dispensaries that are registered with the state inside Medford city limits are Lime Green, 17 S. Riverside Ave., and MaryJane’s Basement, 259 E. Barnett Road.

Carvalho has had two dispensaries that were previously shut down by the city of Medford.

MaryJane's Basement on Barnett Road also was shut down for dispensing medical marijuana, and Carvalho’s other business, The Lounge, was ordered to cease dispensing medical marijuana.

Medford Councilor Clay Bearnson has said he plans to open his own medical marijuana dispensary but is awaiting approval from the Oregon Health Authority before applying for the city business license.

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

Phil Carvalho, co-owner of Patients Helping Patients, opened Medford's first legal dispensary Monday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch