Ashland one step closer to allowing medical marijuana dispensaries

, Posted: Wed, July 2 2014 at 6:48 PM, Updated: Wed, July 2 2014 at 7:38 PM

Ashland, Ore. -- The City of Ashland made a major step toward allowing medical marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday night at the city council meeting.

The council voted on three ordinances dealing with medical marijuana in Ashland.

Dispensaries became legal in the state in March, but Ashland quickly put a ban in place because of neighbors concerns.   

Many people are closely watching the city council. One of them, Ashland resident, Dana Schallheim. She said medical marijuana helped her through chemotherapy.

"I was very very nauseous. My appetite was suppressed during some of it. I had extraordinary stomach pains, bone pains," said Schallheim.

She underwent chemo after being diagnosed last July with stage 3 cervical cancer.

"Cannabis eliminated those side effects," she said.

On Tuesday night, councilors made decisions about dispensaries within city limits.

"Council took a giant step toward lifting the moratorium for medical marijuana dispensaries," said Rich Rosenthal, an Ashland City Councilor.

According to Rosenthal, the council approved three ordinances. The first dealt with when and how a dispensary operates, the second was regarding where dispensaries can be, and the third is a proposal to allow cannabis to be taxed. All three ordinances received a 4-0 approval vote. Two counselors and the mayor were not present.

The plan? To put up to a five percent sales tax on medical marijuana. If Oregon legalizes recreational use in the future, the city would impose up to 10-percent in a sales tax on recreational marijuana.

"I'm not completely against it. We just have to be careful that it's a low tax rate," said Schallheim, who is urging caution.

"It's kind of a slippery slope. We have to be careful because medical marijuana is a medicine. So it's important we treat it like a medicine," Schallheim said.

It's medicine that could be available in Ashland this month as the city council is expected to look at lifting the temporary limited ban on dispensaries at their next meeting.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for July 15th.

That's also when there will be a second reading of the tax ordinance and the proposal regarding how and when dispensaries can operate.

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