Dispensaries Still a Maybe in Gold Hill

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GOLD HILL, Ore. – After passing a one-year moratorium on marijuana dispensaries, city leaders in Gold Hill are already considering ways to end it. The city council is currently drafting two ordinances that would create a medical marijuana facility business license and revise zoning laws.

One business owner has her entire life savings riding on it.

“We’ve invested about $25,000 for the year-long lease and the alarm and security systems and some of the furniture and the fixtures,” said Brie Malarkey, owner of Breeze Botanicals.

Malarkey’s shop, while still under construction, has been given a provisional license from the state to sell marijuana. That means meeting all of the expensive security and outfitting requirements. While marijuana isn’t the only product she plans to sell, with all that money invested she says she’ll need that side of the business to survive.

“I seriously don’t think we’ll be able to make it past tourist season with all the expenses,” said Malarkey.

But the city, which originally started considering dispensaries because of Malarkey’s business plan, says it takes a lot of work to clear the regulatory hurdles.

“There’s three different ordinances, which means there’s six meetings because it takes two meetings to pass an ordinance,” said City Manager Rick Hohnbaum. “It means three different hearings, it means three different public notices.”

The whole process will take about three months of planning and a number of public hearings. Hohnbaum says that’s more than enough time for the City Council to change its mind depending on feedback from the community.

Malarkey, who has attended all of the city council meetings so far, says she’ll open her business to sell medicinal herbs with our without marijuana. If she is able to open her dispensary, it would be the only one allowed due to state-required buffer zones and Gold Hill’s small size.