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Medford is packing in the pot shops

With the new marijuana laws in place, it seems like everyone is jumping on the band, or shall we say, farm wagon. With shops popping up all over town, one can't help but think there is no way they will all survive even with a high demand for this product in the valley. I'm curious as to what the city of Medford is thinking by allowing not one but two similar pot shops to go in within less than a half-mile of each other on Highway 99, just outside the Central Point city limits. How many of these establishments will be built, one after another? I can tell you I'd feel the same way about this no matter what the business might be, as over-saturation will lead to the same problem we have with all of the empty buildings downtown.

— Kristen R., Medford

You're right, Kristen. There are a lot of marijuana stores in and around Medford. According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, there are 10 cannabis retailers within Medford's city limits with another six just outside the city's boundaries. And from what we can tell, there are more pot shops getting ready to open in Medford.

The city now has the most marijuana retailers in the valley, with 27 total in Jackson County, according to the OLCC.

But is it really too many?

Starbucks, which sells another popular drug, caffeine, in its coffee drinks, has eight retail shops in Medford. Dutch Bros. has 12 kiosks in the city, the Human Bean has five, and Mellelo's has two shops. Add those up and you've got 27 coffee shops, and there's plenty more places in the city that sell coffee. Talk about saturation. We're practically swimming in coffee, but nobody's complaining.

Anyway, to your point, Kristen, the Medford City Council, when it approved retail sales of marijuana in the city, realized that over time the number of pot shops would eventually find an upper limit driven by market forces.

The council, in attempting to follow state law, came up with some rules for the time, place and manner of operations of cannabis stores. Like other businesses that come to Medford, the council stayed away from putting any restrictions on the number of marijuana stores.

As to empty storefronts, many of the marijuana businesses have moved into stores that have sat vacant for a long time, such as La Mota on Riverside Drive, which was the former Shenanigan's bar.

It'll be interesting, Kristen, to see how many stores are still in operation in Medford after five years.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.