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Illegal pot dispensary almost legal

Phil Carvalho has spent years trying to sell medical marijuana in Medford, even sometimes running afoul of the law.

Carvalho’s Patients Helping Patients, at 2390 W. Main St., was ordered closed by an injunction from Jackson County Circuit Judge Timothy Gerking in May.

On Tuesday, Carvalho became the first to apply for a business license with the city of Medford after City Council recently lifted its moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

“I was the only one who applied yesterday,” Carvalho said Wednesday. “I’ve been on my best behavior since the injunction.”

He thought he’d walk out the door with a business license, but the city wants to first conduct a $130 inspection of his business to make sure it’s suitable for sales of medical marijuana.

“I was hoping to open yesterday,” he said.

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

On Oct. 2, the 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 3 percent. Any dispensaries that open in the city will not be allowed to sell recreational marijuana.

Most dispensaries in the 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.

Councilor Clay Bearnson has been an outspoken supporter of marijuana legalization and has frequently indicated he plans to open his own medical marijuana dispensary.

Bearnson said he’s still awaiting approval from the Oregon Health Authority, anticipating he will receive a state license in the next couple of weeks.

Once he has state approval, Bearnson plans to apply for a business license in Medford so he can open a dispensary in the downtown.

“Hopefully we can get this done in a timely fashion and get this open,” he said.

Bearnson said he anticipates the city will see applications coming in this January for marijuana producers, processors and related businesses. They are waiting for rules to be established by the OLCC, which plans to establish a seed-to-sale tracking system for marijuana products.

Medford Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell said the city requested that the permanent injunction against Carvalho’s business be lifted once he obtained a business license.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are first required to obtain a license from the Oregon Health Authority before they can get a city business license, McConnell said.

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

On the MaryJane’s Attic Facebook page, it indicates MaryJane’s Basement should have a reopening Dec. 1, but there were no responses to calls made to the store Tuesday. 

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 medical marijuana dispensary in Medford, plans to open as soon as the city grants him a business license. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch