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County gets few medical marijuana applications

The Oregon Health Authority has received only four applications from would-be medical marijuana dispensary owners hoping to set up shop in Washington County, Health Programs spokeswoman Karynn Fish reported.

The agency began accepting applications March 1 to license medical marijuana dispensaries under House Bill 3460. Prior to March, many city governments statewide rushed to establish legally sound ways to prohibit medical marijuana sales in their jurisdictions.

Legislation to give cities and counties some measure of control over dispensaries was introduced in the form of Senate Bill 1531, which passed March 5 with an amendment allowing only temporary moratoriums on “pot shops.”

Such restrictions would expire in May 2015.

“The city can’t negate their licenses,” Fish said. “And the OHA is required to issue registration (that meets criteria).”

In total, the OHA received 281 applications during the first week of March, the majority of which were submitted in the first business hour licenses were accepted. The largest number of applications were filed from Multnomah County, with 129 hopeful dispensary owners requesting licenses. Lane County had the second-highest number, with 39 applications filed.

The fee to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license is $4,000, with a possible $3,500 refund if the proposed location or designated operator is not approved.

“Before (March 3), there was no legal or regulatory structure in place governing operations,” Fish said, explaining that HB 3460 aims to ensure access to medical marijuana and keep the community safe, in part by requiring operators to submit to a criminal background check.

Although the law does not specify the maximum number of dispensaries that can be located in a given municipality, facilities must be located more than 1,000 feet from schools and other dispensaries, and separate from a registered marijuana grow site.

The OHA provides an online, interactive school footprint buffer area map for potential dispensary-owners, in order to indicate safe areas for business.

Dispensary locations and owner information is kept confidential, unless applicants give permission to have the information published on the OHA’s website.



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