By Damian Mann

Medford Mail Tribune

MEDFORD — A member of the Medford City Council, known for its tough stance on legalized marijuana, has opened his own dispensary.

Clay Bearnson is believed to be the first city councilor in Oregon to own a cannabis dispensary, though that could not be immediately confirmed by the Oregon Health Authority.

“That feels pretty cool,” Bearnson said.

Bearnson and five partners opened Oregon Farmacy at 1 W. Sixth St., Suite 104, in the Acme Building, about two weeks ago. A grand opening is planned later.

It is the third dispensary within city limits, joining Patients Helping Patients and Kush Gardens.

As councilor, Bearnson has championed removing city laws opposed to medical and recreational marijuana sales. After taking office in 2014, Bearnson declared he had a medical marijuana card and hoped to open a dispensary. He also grows marijuana, some of which is dispensed at his new store.

His favorite strain at the moment is Snoop’s Dream, which features a mix of the rapper Snoop Dogg’s preferred strains, Blue Dream and OG Kush.

Locally owned

While Bearnson, who also owns the Gypsy Blues Bar, appears to be the first city councilor in Oregon to own a dispensary, Jake Boone, a Cottage Grove city councilor, was formerly manager of Apothecaria in that city.

Dispensaries within city limits currently sell medical marijuana only, but voters in November will decide whether to allow recreational sales of pot, legalized by Ballot Measure 91 in 2014.

Bearnson said his goal is to provide local products at the dispensary. His mother, Sue Hefner, also a partner, grows some of the cannabis on display in the shop.

“It’s a family affair,” Bearnson said. “This is 100 percent locally owned and operated.”

He said he hopes to get more products on the shelves that are manufactured locally.

Some of the six partners involved in Oregon Farmacy will each take a turn operating the dispensary. Bearnson manned it himself Friday.

Criticism

With his strong pro-marijuana stance and his announcement that he would open a dispensary, Bearnson has been criticized for voting on pot issues before the council.

“Some people say, ‘He should resign,’ or that what I’m doing is corrupt,” Bearnson said.

Bearnson said he checked with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to make sure he could vote on these issues. However, now that he has a license to dispense marijuana, Bearnson said he would recuse himself from voting on the issue in the future.

He said he has made passionate attempts before the council to dispel the effects of 100 years of propaganda about marijuana.

“To be honest, I’ve been up against the good ol’ boy network to let them see the light,” he said.

If Medford voters approve recreational sales of cannabis along with a local 3 percent tax, Bearnson said he would seek the necessary permits to sell recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana.

Other councilors haven’t criticized Bearnson, though they have ribbed him on occasion.

“They’ll say something like, ‘Is that a regular brownie?’” Bearnson said. “It’s all good humor. No harm, no foul.”

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