Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, March 3 2014 at 6:49 PM, Updated: Mon, March 3 2014 at 7:54 PM
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program website was busy Monday.
Tom Burns, Director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority, is in charge of rolling out the program statewide. He said 289 people applied to open a dispensary on their website.
He also said 200 of those applications came in the first 20 minutes. People could begin applying to open a dispensary at 8:30 Monday morning.
"That says to me that a lot of people wanted to get in very early because they were worried they might have some competitors," said Burns.
Breaking down how many applications came from which counties
He said most of the applications came from larger urban areas. According to burns, 18 applications were received from the greater Jackson County area, with less than 10 each from Josephine and Klamath counties.
Here are the numbers of applications from other counties outside of Southern Oregon:
Multnomah - 135
Lane - 41
Deschutes - 17
Lincoln - 11
Marion - 11
Overall, there were 20 counties with fewer than 10 applications and 10 counties with no applications submitted. So far, he said their website is busy, but holding up well.
When potential dispensary owners might hear back
He also said licenses could be issued, at the very earliest by the end of next week or the beginning of the week of March 17th.
Of course he said that doesn't mean all 289 people would get a license or hear back at that time since going over applications is a very long process to complete. Burns said licenses will go out in groups of five to ten every day.
According to Burns the OHA has to make sure the dispensary is not owned by someone with a drug conviction or located within 1000ft of a school or another dispensary.
Establishments already operating as a dispensary in Oregon will presumably have less work to do in order to begin operating. Burns said there needs to be certain infrastructure in place for security purposes.
60-day provisional license available for brand new dispensaries
The process could be a little different for brand new dispensaries.
"We can issue a 60-day provisional license which holds their place for 60-days while they do the buildout. At the end of 60 days, if they're not done then the application will be deemed denied and we'll move onto the next person," said Burns.
But what should dispensaries that are already operating do while they wait for the green light?
"That's a business decision on their part. We do not intend to take any actions against a dispensary until we have approved all the applications we have, at which point we will do onsite inspections of those dispensaries," Burns said.
If in the course of those inspections, they learn of unlicensed dispensaries, Burns said they can give out civil penalties or contact local law enforcement.
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.