- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) - One of Oregon’s more liberal cities is considering a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Oregon Health Authority Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program has already received six dispensary applications for Ashland. The Ashland Daily Tidings reports (http://is.gd/MqjCai ) that the city council will discuss a moratorium April 1 because of rising neighborhood opposition.

People planning to launch dispensaries in Oregon began submitting applications to the state three week ago as part of a new medical marijuana regulatory system.

One proposed dispensary abuts an Ashland neighborhood.

Though technically in a business zone, Carol Kim said the dispensary is separated from her home by a hedge. She said it’s ironic that state rules bar dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, but her daughters must live near one.

“There’s no buffer between our neighborhood and this medical marijuana dispensary,” she said.

Though she doesn’t oppose the existence of dispensaries, Kim said Ashland must consider additional regulations, including lighting, hours of operations and screening from neighboring properties.

“I want to see guidelines for Ashland,” Kim said. “It’s not just about our neighborhood. This will be an issue elsewhere.”

Other neighbors have sent emails expressing their concerns to Mayor John Stromberg and city councilors.

Stromberg said because dispensaries must be at least 1,000 feet from each other under state rules, applicants have an incentive to get applications in early in order to secure a spot.

Those quick applications may not provide Ashland enough time to work out regulations to protect neighborhoods, he said.

“That’s why we may need a moratorium,” Stromberg said.

If councilors adopt a moratorium on April 1, it would be temporary and allow time for planners and the council to review and approve regulations.

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Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings, http://www.dailytidings.com