Ashland considers temporary dispensary ban

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, March 24 2014 at 5:51 PM, Updated: Mon, March 24 2014 at 9:22 PM

Ashland, Ore. -- The city with one of the most tolerant stances on medical marijuana dispensaries will now consider a temporary ban, said Ashland City Councilor, Carol Voisin.

She said it's due to concerns from people who live in town near dispensaries. 

Other city officials have said they may need more time to figure out rules and regulations.

Homeowners near potential dispensary location voice concerns

"As we look out our front door, the first thing we see sort of kitty corner from us is 400 Williamson Way," said Edward Hungerford who lives near a proposed medical marijuana dispensary.

"I'm not entirely in favor of it," he said.

However, it's not that he's against medical marijuana. Rather, he said his reservations stem from what would happen to a medical marijuana dispensary if in the future the state legalized recreational use.

"This medical marijuana dispensary might want to apply to become a full scale sales position," said Hungerford.

His neighbors have also been vocal on the issue.

Carol Kim lives across the street from the proposed dispensary on Williams Way. In a letter to the Ashland City Council dated March 17, 2014 she said her daughter's window looks directly at the proposed dispensary.

"We have lived here for 13 years. The city says we can call the police if consumption occurs outside. Reassuring. They say no one can drive under the influence. Let's be realistic," wrote Kim.

She said she's also concerned that housing values will plummet.

Because of concerned homeowners like her, now the council will consider a temporary ban on dispensaries.

Dispensary operators weigh in

In another part of town, Puff's Smoke Shop owner Mike Welch said he understands the concern.

However, Welch hopes Siskiyou Medical Supply, the dispensary operating inside the smoke shop, will be able to keep operating.

If councilors vote to enact a moratorium he said he would have to lay off three full-time employees and a part-time employee. All of them, staff he hired on to help manage a boom in business.

Boom in business due to dispensary bans in Rogue Valley cities

"Business at Siskiyou Medical Supply has basically quadrupled overnight," said Welch.

He said he attributes it to the bans in other Rogue Valley cities.

In the end, he said the City of Ashland has made good decisions before and moving forward he trusts the city council to make the right call.

"Ashland needs to be Ashland is what it comes down to," began Welch.

"We're not Medford, we're not Phoenix, or Talent or Rogue River or Grants Pass. We are Ashland and we do things in an Ashland manner," he continued.

Now Welch and homeowners like Edward Hungerford are watching counselors closely in the newest development of this budding industry.

Upcoming meetings

On Tuesday, the Planning Commission will be looking at regulations regarding dispensaries during their 7pm meeting at the council chambers located at 1175 E. Main Street. The meeting is open to the public.

Then on Wednesday there will be an informational meeting open to the community at 6pm inside The Grove building in Ashland at 1195 East Main Street.

The city council will meet next on Tuesday, April 1st to discuss a temporary ban. That 7pm meeting will also occur in the council chambers located at 1175 E. Main Street. The meeting is open to the public and public comment will be allowed.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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