LEBANON, Ore. – A medical marijuana dispensary in Lebanon is closing its doors at the end of the month after the Linn County Board of Commissioners passed a one-year moratorium.
Going Green Compassion Center, which has more than 1,000 customers, has been operating for over a year as a private cooperative club in Lebanon, and is now operating as a state dispensary.
The City of Lebanon has its own moratorium, but because of the Center’s spot directly outside of city limits, it was safe until Wednesday, when the Board passed a moratorium for dispensaries in unincorporated parts of Linn County.
“It was devastating,” said Sarah Whiteley, Owner and PFR of the Center. “I actually cried. It was so sad. We have so many members who are very, very ill and they’re not going to be able to get to the other places.”
The Board of Commissioners says it has issues with the state dispensary process and that there are still problems that need to be worked out in the system.
“At this point, from a local government perspective, it doesn’t seem like it’s been completely thought out,” said Roger Nyquist, the Board’s Chair. “It doesn’t really take into account the impacts on neighborhoods, law enforcement, and kids for example.”
Going Green Compassion Center has until April 30 to close until the moratorium expires in May 2015.
Customers say they worry they will not be able to travel outside of the area in order to get their marijuana.
“I’m not going to be able to get my medicine,” said customer C.J. Stephenson, who also volunteers at the Center. “I’m going to have to turn to the street and I don’t want that.”
Stephenson has spinal meningitis and says the only medicine that helps with his pain and muscle spasms is cannabis.
“I got it when I was six months old,” he said. “Basically what happened to me was I got paralyzed. My whole right side I have to wear this brace. If this place isn’t here – I live in Sweet Home – so I would have to drive to Eugene or drive to Albany or drive to Corvallis and I can’t do that. I can barely pay rent.”
Whiteley worries that customers, such as Stephenson, will turn to the black market in order to continue using marijuana.
“It’s dangerous because marijuana you buy on the street isn’t tested for things like mold, mildew, or pesticides,” she said.
Cannabis available at the dispensary, however, is tested.
In the meantime, the County says state laws may change within the next year, and it wants to wait before dispensaries can operate in the area.