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'A Safe Place for Marijuana Patients to Meet'

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Sheri Levit is emphatic that the Linn-Benton Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Patient Resource Center is not a "pot parlor" where seedy characters sit in dark corners huffing on marijuana-filled pipes.

That's exactly what Levit, the center's executive director, and her partner in the project, Kathy Srp, don't want for Oregonians who hold medical marijuana cards.

"We are a safe place for people to meet and get educated about the medical benefits of cannabis," Levit said, responding to what she believes has been negative press. "Would you want your grandmother to have to get her medicine on the black market?"

The center, which opened in April, is in a small office in a light industrial building on Ehlen Drive near the intersection of Oakville Road and Highway 34. It is open to non-members from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Levit says that is when non-members can learn about the center and the uses of cannabis for medical purposes.

Levit, 41, said she has promoted the healing benefits of cannabis for more than 20 years, mostly in the Portland area, with "friends and family who are like-minded. There has been a void between Portland and Eugene."

Levit said the center has 100 members, more than half at least 50 years old and 25 percent 75 or older. The center is a place where marijuana card holders can contact legal medical marijuana growers. Dues are $35 a year.

"We hold monthly meetings to educate people about legislative issues, safety and cannabis in the news," Levit said.

The center does not sell marijuana, she stressed. One of its goals is to teach people about the healing benefits of cannabis without smoking it because, she says, smoke in any form is dangerous to one's health. But the center does give away salves and oils whose ingredients include healing cannabinoids that can be ingested or absorbed through the skin.

Levit said the center has "given away gallons" of liquid tincture, extracted cannabis that has been mixed with honey or glycerin. Club members produce the tinctures and donate them to the center for redistribution.

"We do not sell medications," Levit said. "We do not have a back room filled with marijuana. We would like to have a public community forum and invite our elected officials to hear testimonials from club members."

But it may be zoning – not public opinion – that is the center's more immediate threat.

Acting on a complaint, the Linn County Board of Commissioners asked the Planning and Building Department to determine whether operation of the center at its current location fits within zoning regulations.

A county inspector visited the center on Tuesday and the county sent notification that it does not fall within the Urban Development II parameters. Some types of allowed uses include implement dealerships, agricultural supplies, equipment repair and contracting yards.

"In order to bring the property into compliance with code, you must immediately cease the operation of the activity," the letter said.

Levit said she will fight any attempt to shut down the center.

"We are no different than any other club," Levit said.

"If they shut us down, they will need to shut down every other club that meets in light industrial buildings. We are pioneers in this area. We're needed and we're here to stay."

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: democratherald.com
Author: Alex Paul
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: democratherald.com
Website: 'A safe place for marijuana patients to meet'
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