After the Hillsboro City Council passed an ordinance in January that banned medical marijuana dispensaries for 120 days, Will McEvoy and his family rented space on Southwest Walnut Street, hoping to open after the ban ended.
The business, named Mundo Verde, is in a location that would allow for operation as a dispensary under zoning regulations proposed by the city in February – it’s in a general commercial zone and is over 1,000 feet from residential zones.
McEvoy was ready to open and start serving medical marijuana patients. But then the city extended the moratorium until May of next year. And though councilors said they expected that the ban wouldn’t last that long, McEvoy is worried about how much longer he’ll be able to afford the space without any revenue.
“We followed the rules,” McEvoy said on Wednesday. “We followed the timeline of the state. We considered the 120-day moratorium in Hillsboro.”
McEvoy’s family has invested tens of thousands of dollars into the business so far, he said, and if the ban drags on too long, Mundo Verde might have to close before it even opens.
“We need to bring in income,” McEvoy said. “You can’t invest all this money and not open.”
The former owner of Tacoma, Wash.’s Hardwood Pro flooring business, McEvoy says he trusts the city and thinks the councilors were sincere when they said they didn’t want the ban to last too long – only long enough to further study how to zone the dispensaries correctly. He says he wants to operate legally – he’s met with local law enforcement officials and invited them to Mundo Verde – and help local patients in need of medical marijuana, which he mostly refers to as simply “medicine.”
“We are wanting to be a legal business. … I have four kids to feed,” said McEvoy, who is married. “I can’t go to jail for this.”
Most of the people who have visited the shop are senior citizens, said McEvoy, who is one of Washington County’s approximately 4,286 medical marijuana cardholders.
“They’re waiting for this,” he said.
Before it opens as a dispensary, Mundo Verde is currently operating as a free “patient resource center.” The business will get its product from McEvoy’s mother, who grows marijuana in Southern Oregon, he said. The family knows other growers, as well.
“Since I know a lot of growers, we’re going to be getting it at a lower price point,” he said.
McEvoy acknowledged the stigma that comes along with running a medical marijuana dispensary, but he said there are “misconceptions” about the plant and the dangers it presents.
“I’m a parent of four children,” he said. “Heck yeah, I’m worried about children.”
— Luke Hammill
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