As of July 1, Oregon joined the pot club, becoming the third state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana after Colorado and Washington. What friendly retailer options you may have—well, that is a different story. Originally, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) had until early 2016 to make some rules; the plan was to start accepting applications for retail operations.
That all started to change last Thursday. A bill allowing medical dispensaries to start selling to recreational customers on Oct. 1 passed through Oregon’s legislature and has now been approved by the senate. As it turns out, legislators were not high on the idea of the black market turning gray until sometime in 2016.
The legislation seems to target a temporary fix, but if passed, may also signal a framework for future licensing that shows at least some preference for facilities that are already compliant with the rigors of a medical licensure. That said, the OLCC will eventually promulgate rules, and two of the three local dispensaries are taking a wait-and-see attitude about that.
Different Plans at Each Dispensary
Harold Lareau representing the Green Room on 9th and Walnut is the most decided. He says he plans to utilize every inch of space available in order to meet demand of his current OMMP patients and future recreational sales. He has prepared for ownership of a recreational sales business since he began business, but plans to separate medical users from recreational shoppers to offer the best services to everyone.
High Quality Compassion’s Brock Binder says they will remain devoted solely to medical cardholders for the time being, and Kayla Dunham at the Agrestic just isn’t sure. Both believe there are just too many variables at this time to know what would be best and are concerned with having well-trained dispensary staff that can match incoming patients with the right products, which often takes at least half an hour.
Dunham is concerned there will be an influx in recreational users buying from the black market until there are legal recreational stores.
Lareau and Binder agreed that legalization could help smooth out current dispensary operations. They look forward to higher standards in laboratory testing and a decline in negative stigmas surrounding the plant. Lareau predicted that more Oregonians might pursue medical dispensary licenses, while Binder said that some Oregon health insurance companies were interested in extending prescription coverage to medical marijuana patients.
Both Lareau and Binder believe that recreational retail facilities would eventually far outnumber medical dispensaries in Oregon, and both are optimistic that interstate and international tourists would comprise a significant portion of their customer base. On this note, Dunham added that locations already drawing tourists would probably draw more recreational users, just because marijuana is available there now. None of the dispensaries believe that on-site smoking rooms would be a feature of recreational sales facilities.
Lareau and Binder believe that one day dispensary workers will fill a pharmacist’s role. They say that they have noticed doctors are learning more about the possible medical benefits offered by different strains of cannabis, and because of this, the prescriptions they write have become more specific and complete.
Dunham, on the other hand, disagrees. She believes that workers are more like naturopaths or herbal specialists. She says pharmacists work with synthetic chemicals that have very predictable outcomes, whereas cannabis is not shown to affect all people in one way. It’s very different from pharmaceutical drugs.
Lareau and Binder shared that they often engage with health care professionals who want information so that they can be better informed when speaking with patients.
All three also anticipate advances in marijuana genetics, production techniques, and storage technology, as well as cleaner, denser, and more potent strains to be available in the future.
It appears likely that recreational sales may be more lucrative, but even with this last week’s temporary fix, all of the dispensary owners agree they may need to wait and see what the OLCC does before making long-term plans.
By Padma McKaye