Gold Hill Struggles with Dispensaries

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GOLD HILL, Ore. – Brie Malarkey stares at the “For Lease” sign posted on her future storefront in downtown Gold Hill. The security deposit has already been paid, but she has a long way to go before she can move in.

“We’re putting a lot of money and time and energy on the line and I’m not quite sure if it will actually go through,” said Malarkey.

Malarkey currently owns a small farm in Shady Cove, selling food and herbal remedies at local farmer’s markets.

She says the store she envisions, Sun God Medicinals, is the next step for her. Marijuana would be just one part of that.

“Kind of a farm store,” said Malarkey. “We can incorporate all of our existing products and have a very discreet herbal medicine and herbal supplements room in the back of the dispensary.”

After seeing her business plan, the City Council got on board. But they voted in a year-long moratorium anyway in the hopes that they can come up with a plan and end it early.

Their city manager says if they were to go by state dispensary rules, Malarkey could have a license today. But Gold Hill is so small that their business district nearly overlaps neighborhoods and parks.

While Malarkey’s location isn’t a problem, they say if they don’t plan ahead future dispensary applicants to set up shop next to someone’s house.

“What we are setting here doesn’t just pertain to one particular business or one particular business owner,” said City Manager Rick Hohnbaum.

Because state licenses are first-come, first-served, Malarkey says she had to apply immediately. If her application is accepted, she’ll have 60 days from the time of acceptance to get her shop set up and up to compliance standards.

That means if the city can’t find an answer quickly enough, she could have to throw in the towel before ever opening her doors.

“I’m kind of in this limbo,” said Malarkey. “I’m not a big corporation, I’m just a small family farmer.”

The City Manager says they hope to have a draft ordinance for the City Council to review in time for their next meeting on April 7th.