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Oregon receives nearly 300 marijuana dispensary applications

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Bowl of buds

A salad bowl full of marijuana buds sits in an Albany marijuana grower's apartment in a photo taken last year. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald)

The first day to apply for Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries was Monday, and the state received 289 applications by 4 p.m. as entrepreneurs raced to turn in paperwork.

About 200 of the Internet applications came within the first hour, despite a $4,000 fee.

“If we don’t file today, and other people file, they will only allow so many dispensaries within the city of Albany,” said Kendra Ludahl, vice president of Albany’s Canna Kitchen, 2300 Ferry St. S.W.

Linn and Benton counties each had less than 10 forms turned in on Monday. Exact figures weren’t available from the Oregon Health Authority, which declined to release the numbers.

“The law requires us to keep dispensary locations and the identities of persons responsible for dispensaries confidential. So in cases where there are fewer than 10, we are not releasing the exact numbers,” said Karynn  Fish, Oregon Health Authority spokeswoman, in an email.

The rush to file is because rules prohibit dispensaries within 1,000 feet of each other, and within 1,000 feet of many schools.

The result is a limited number of sites where a dispensary can be located in towns like Albany, Corvallis and elsewhere.

“It is literally first come-first serve, and that is why people are applying today,” said Tom Burns, director of pharmacy programs for the Oregon Health Authority.

Jake Lewis and Ryan Smith filed their application for their proposed Corvallis dispensary, called The Healing Center, on Monday morning.

“Even if someone was within 990 feet of us and they applied first, we wouldn’t be able to do that, so we wanted to make sure we did that as soon as possible,” Smith said.

The pair have leased 2,000 square feet at 300 S.W. Second Ave. and have completed the basic remodeling work needed to operate a dispensary at the site, including security measures required by the new law.

“Now we’ve just got to wait,” Smith said.

“We hope they’ll get back to us in a timely manner and we’ll be able to open soon,” Lewis said.

Burns said that the first approvals could begin trickling out the week of March 17. Dispensaries should not be open before they are officially approved.

Lewis and Smith have established a relationship with Dr. Kathleen Kleinert of Southern Oregon Alternative Medicine, who’s been seeing patients interested in qualifying for medical marijuana cards in nearby office space since December. She’ll move her Corvallis office to The Healing Center as soon as it opens.

The Canna Kitchen, which has been in operation for more than two years, converts marijuana that patients bring in into smokeless remedies. Nevertheless, it was required to register as a dispensary.

And Ludahl said her family didn’t waste any time.

“We’re hoping to be able to continue being here and doing what we’re already doing,” Ludahl said.

And, in addition, if they are approved, they’ll provide marijuana to patients as well.

Kyle Odegard covers public safety for the D-H. He can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.

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