State regulators said Friday they’ve ordered the closure of nine unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries, including one in Veneta, since it began enforcement this spring.
The news came as the Oregon Health Authority announced a settlement with a licensed Portland dispensary it sought to close for serious violations.
Regulators began inspections and enforcement several weeks after it began licensing medical marijuana dispensaries in March.
The agency worked with the state Department of Justice to send cease-and-desist letters to the nine dispensaries, including six in Portland and Oregon Grown Medical in Veneta. The other two dispensaries were located in Astoria and North Bend.
“Unlicensed dispensaries put our communities and patients at risk,” said Tom Burns, the agency’s director of pharmacy programs. “When we find them, we will close them down.”
The letters date back as far as April, with the most recent letter dated Aug. 28. The letter to Oregon Grown Medical was dated June 19.
Regulators say they search websites and publications that advertise dispensaries and rely on public tips to track down unlicensed dispensaries.
Oregon Grown Medical was one of two dispensaries that had applied for a license, but their applications were deemed incomplete.
The agency found four dispensaries were operating despite their license applications being denied because they would be located within 1,000 feet of a school or another dispensary. The remaining three dispensaries hadn’t applied for a license.
Oregon Grown Medical has reapplied for a license at the same location, said agency spokeswoman Karynn Fish. Other dispensaries have applied or reapplied for a license at the same or a different location, she said. The Veneta dispensary didn’t not return a phone message or email seeking comment Friday.
The agency threatened to fine dispensaries that did not close immediately $500 a day and noted their owners could be subject to criminal prosecution.
The agency announced a Portland dispensary paid penalties totaling $6,500 for 13 violations it termed as serious. The violations included poor record keeping, failure to verify whether customers are registered medical marijuana cardholders, and evidence of marijuana use on the premises.
The agency had moved to revoke the dispensary’s license in June but it appealed, leading to a settlement. The dispensary must meet various conditions to reopen, according to the settlement.
The agency said it served another Portland dispensary with a proposed license revocation and penalties totalling $29,500 for violations.
Out of 70 inspections completed since May, three have resulted in license suspensions or revocations, the agency said.
The tally included Kush MMD in Eugene.
The agency had suspended its license for serious violations but later reinstated it.
The agency also had moved to revoke the license of another Eugene dispensary for being located too close to a charter school. It dropped the matter against the dispensary, The Greener Side, after learning the school had moved.
As of Aug. 15, the agency has licensed 183 dispensaries and granted provisional licenses to another 28. Eugene has 17 licensed dispensaries, and Springfield has two.
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