The Oregon Health Authority on Friday approved the first eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, including one in Bend.
Doctor Jolly’s, a medical marijuana clinic at Southeast Third Street and Vine Lane, is the first Deschutes County dispensary to get a formal operating license from the state. Ben Hebert, the owner of Doctor Jolly’s, said on Saturday that he hopes to open the business March 31. “We’re awaiting lab test results (on the marijuana products), to be compliant with the state law,” Hebert said. “It’s exciting to be the first in town that will be fully compliant.”
Sixteen dispensaries in the county have applied for inclusion in the state’s new medical marijuana registry, which debuted this month. Fifteen of them are in Bend, according to Healthy Authority figures, the third most of any Oregon city behind Portland and Eugene.
The state didn’t receive any applications from Crook or Jefferson counties. But others are likely to follow. The state will update its registry each week, according to Karynn Fish, a Health Authority spokeswoman. An additional 22 clinics have received provisional licenses, meaning they could be approved after installing the proper security systems.
Twenty applications were denied. A total of 288 have applied across the state, with about half coming from Multnomah and Lane counties. Most of the applications haven’t been processed yet.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 1998, but the federal government continues to classify marijuana as an illegal substance. Clinics have long operated in a legal gray area because of the difference in state and federal marijuana laws.
The state registry is designed to separate legitimate dispensaries from ones that try to use the business as a front for illegal drug sales.
Of the other seven clinics approved Friday, three are in Portland, one is in Hermiston, one in Eugene and one in Salem. The other clinic declined to waive the confidentiality agreement clinics sign with the state during the application process, so its identity isn’t known.
Hebert said he previously operated an Asian fusion food cart at events around the state, grew marijuana and produced marijuana edibles and concentrate for dispensaries in Bend.
“People really liked our product, and it was highly sought after,” Hebert said. After Hebert found a landlord for his new business, “We renovated that space to comply with state law,” Hebert said. “We actually had to build it out, and install extensive security. That’s why they granted us the license, I guess.”