Yukon dispensaries seek longer hours

Council asked to amend ordinance for marijuana retailers


By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Yukon city leaders have been asked to extend operating hours for local marijuana dispensaries.

The Yukon City Council has been hearing lately from medical marijuana businesses about allowing these retail establishments to remain open later Monday through Saturday and to be open on Sunday.

Council members, at their June 6th work session, reviewed proposed changes to the City of Yukon’s medical marijuana ordinances.

Top among these amendments is a proposal to allow the retail dispensaries to be open between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day of the week – Monday through Sunday.

Five years ago, Chapter 214 of Yukon city ordinance #1365 established hours of operation to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Medical marijuana businesses cannot be open on Sundays.

The City of Yukon has started enforcing this ordinance by issuing citations to dispensaries opening outside those hours – prompting a call to make changes.

Several marijuana dispensary operators and employees spoke out during the visitors’ section at the June 6th Yukon City Council meeting.

Jacques Chansavang, owner of Yukon’s Elevate Dispensary, said current restrictions on operating hours have affected his employees’ livelihood and their ability to pay rent, utilities and other living expenses.

“Placing these restrictions has forced patients – who may need their medicine outside operational hours – to wait or drive to Oklahoma City in order to make a purchase,” Chansavang said.

“We have some patients who come late at night, or they work late.”

Sunday is the only day some patients have free to run errands, he pointed out.

People who suffer pain, seizures, sleeplessness, and various disorders need access to this medicine “at any given time”, Chansavang told Yukon city officials.

“I’ve seen the change among our patients, and it’s been very gratifying,” he added.

Yukon’s James Amway, who manages the Elevate Dispensary in Bethany, said many patients rely on medical marijuana and it “saves lives.”

“It is not a drug; it is medicine,” Amway stressed. “And people need this. It helps anxiety, depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), schizophrenia.”

The City of Yukon is losing sales tax revenues when people drive to dispensaries in other cities due to Yukon’s restricted operating hours, he added.

Yukon’s Jaden Fortenberry, an Elevate Dispensary employee, described how patients use medical marijuana and CBD to treat medical conditions, severe PTSD and addictions to pain medication.

“Our sleepless patients don’t get to choose when they are sleepless,” Fortenberry said. “But if we are able to aid them at nighttime, the tax dollars that would come to our city would be extremely beneficial.”

His patients include elderly Yukon residents and military veterans.

Fortenberry told city council members that allowing dispensaries to be open later at night and on Sundays would provide more tax revenue for Yukon’s streets and sidewalks, along with drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Yukon’s Niki Weed-Gossett pointed out that cannabis is made of compounds used to halt, prevent and even cure disease and ease symptoms of illnesses.

Cannabis helps alleviate the side effects of pharmaceuticals and has been shown to prevent relapse in drug and alcohol addition, she added.

“It actually helps the quality of life and to extend it,” Weed-Gossett told city council members. “Treating cannabis and alcohol the same is irresponsible and dangerous.”

She noted that alcohol fits the description of a dangerous drug with no medicinal benefit that causes addiction and leads to early death.

Yukon’s Stephanni Taylor likes to work at the Elevate dispensary.

“This is kinda cutting into my work time,” Taylor said of limiting hours of operation. “I also work with a bunch of young men trying to make it in this economy. Honestly, I don’t know how they’re doing it.

“We’re a small business, and we don’t make a lot of money. The extra hours are important to all of us.”

Taylor also likes serving her community and catering to patients.

“We’re sending tax dollars up the road we could keep here,” she reminded Yukon city officials.

Courtney Young, owner of Yukon’s Green Lily Dispensary, has operated her business from the start following the hours of operation listed in the city ordinance.

Young opposes allowing dispensaries to operate 24/7 but supports extending hours to 10 p.m. every day including Sunday.

“That would be a great thing for our industry,” she said.



Yukon has three dispensaries inside its city limits while the much-smaller municipality of Warr Acres has 19, Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby pointed out.

“They’re just on every street corner (in Warr Acres),” Selby said during a recent Yukon Legislative Breakfast. “Theirs close and open, and close and open. They don’t have as much control and regulation with them.

“By having just three, it keeps the market competitive and not saturated. It’s good for our community that we at least had the foresight to look at limiting how many (dispensaries) and we don’t allow grow facilities. When we first made those ordinances, we really thought ahead.”

Yukon’s city ordinance restricts where retail marijuana establishments may not be located. They cannot be within:

  • 300 feet of any library, museum, public playground, childcare center, place of worship or religious assembly, public park, pool, recreation facility, juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility, substance abuse rehabilitation/treatment center, or another medical marijuana or retail marijuana establishment.
  • 1,000 feet of any private or public school, preschool, elementary school, secondary school, high school, vocational or trade school, college or university.

The City of Yukon has three separate ordinances on the books regulating retail marijuana establishments adopted between August 2018 and February 2019.

In June 2018, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 788 by a 56.7% majority legalizing the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Oklahoma voters rejected recreational marijuana legalization in a statewide election this March when S.Q. 820 failed by a 61.7% majority.

Another proposed change to Yukon’s ordinance on retail marijuana establishments would add this section under conditions of operation:

“Building and use are required to meet all of the building code requirements as adopted by the city and state.”

After passage of legislation and a ruling in a court case, Yukon city officials announced they would not enforce provisions of ordinance #1365 relating to marijuana growing facilities for personal use and permits and inspections for such facilities.

The proposed code update includes removing that language from the city code.