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Gold Hill officials report no problems with pot dispensary

GOLD HILL — City officials report none of the problems some feared since the Rogue Valley's first medical marijuana dispensary opened here more than two months ago.

City Manager Rick Hohnbaum said Breeze Botanicals, owned by Brie Malarkey, has more security cameras than some jails and that there have been "no problems, no calls, no issues" since the business got off to a quiet start in June, shortly after a new state law allowing dispensaries took effect.

Moreover, the 5 percent tax imposed by the city on the sale of marijuana products is generating about $2,000 a month for the public safety fund, putting Gold Hill in a much better position to consider boosting law enforcement next year if the income continues, he said.

"I've received one anonymous verbal complaint," he said, "but their perspective was a little bit unusual, and I'm questioning the authenticity of it."

For now, the only regular in-town law is a half-time Jackson County sheriff’s community service officer, Gerry Conley, under contract with the city.

“There haven’t been any problems that anyone has brought up, except there are kids that live in houses that are less than 100 yards from the place,” Conley said. “Those people tend to be a little vocal about it.”

Mayor Jan Fish said she had mixed feelings about the dispensary, but “we haven’t had a whiff of trouble. We do have drug problems in this town, but they’re mostly methamphetamine and heroin.”

The four councilors targeted for recall in Monday’s election include Lorraine Parks, who said she wasn’t aware of the dispensary creating any problems, and pointed out the sales tax is making money for city public safety.

The recall petition accuses Parks along with fellow city councilors Margaret Dials, Doug Reischman and Gus Wolf with allowing Breeze Botanicals to be too close to public parks, churches and homes, and of pushing their own agenda.

“Brie Malarkey is very responsible, respectable,” Dials maintained.

As of Aug. 15, the state Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program had approved 183 dispensary applications, including 11 in Jackson County, two in Josephine County and one in Douglas County.

In addition to Breeze Botanicals, there are two dispensaries open in Talent and another one in Ashland.

However, local moratoriums in many places still apply. Both Josephine County and Grants Pass have moratoriums in place. The Grants Pass City Council has banned dispensaries outright, as has the Medford City Council.

For now, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In November, Oregon voters will be asked to pass a law similar to Washington and Colorado legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. 

Reach reporter Howard Huntington at 541-474-3726 or hhuntington@thedailycourier.com.