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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Begins To Accept Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications

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Oregon launched its medical marijuana dispensary program Monday. Nearly 300 dispensary owners signed up at this first opportunity for a state license.

For the past two years, medical marijuana dispensaries have been popping up across Oregon. But until now, they weren't officially recognized under state law.

The new registry requires the storefront operations to implement security measures and mandates strict testing and labeling rules. The application costs $4,000 and dispensaries will be subject to annual inspections.

Margo Sperry owns Urban Farmacy, a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland. She says she was sitting at her computer waiting to sign up the minute the application period opened.

"The way I view it is that we are pioneering an industry," she says. "And everything is changing so rapidly that there isn't a day in this business that isn't kind of exciting."

Oregon lawmakers meanwhile are debating whether to allow cities and counties to ban the dispensaries. At least two dozen communities around Oregon want to prohibit medical marijuana shops in their town.