Pubdate: Mon, 28 Sep 2015
Source: Bulletin, The (Bend, OR)
Copyright: 2015 Western Communications Inc.
Author: Joseph Ditzler


Sale of Recreational Marijuana About to Begin

Dispensaries in Bend are stocking up, packaging product and rolling 
joints ahead of Thursday, the day sales of limited amounts of 
recreational marijuana become legal in Oregon.

Marijuana advocates see the day as cause for celebration, the day the 
once-evil weed goes mainstream.

"I think this is the birth of a whole new industry that I think will 
rival the craft beer industry within five years," said Gary Bracelin, 
a partner at Tokyo Starfish, 542 NW Arizona Ave., one of the newest 
of 16 medical marijuana dispensaries in Bend. "Part of what we're 
trying to do is take the stigma away."

Sam Stapleton, owner of DiamondTree, a dispensary with two locations 
in Bend, said he expects 500 or more people to show up at the U.S. 
Highway 20 location on Thursday. If the state approves, he plans on 
opening at midnight.

In addition to hiring five new people for a total staff of 14, he's 
also contemplating armed security. He's ready for whatever the day 
brings, he said.

"It's been a long time coming," he said Friday. "It's one of those 
goals you always have in the back of your mind. It's unfolded so fast 
that it hasn't sunk in."

Starting Thursday, adults age 21 and older may purchase 1/4 ounce of 
dried marijuana flowers or leaves from one dispensary per day. That's 
about two grape-size dried flower buds, enough for two bowls full in 
a marijuana pipe. Customers are not limited to buying from one 
dispensary, however, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Adults 
may also purchase four immature marijuana plants per year from any 
one source, but they may purchase plants from several sources, 
according to the authority. Rolled joints are legal for sale, but not 
processed marijuana products, such as extracts, drinks, salves or edibles.

Gov. Kate Brown in July signed a law allowing early recreational 
sales of marijuana at medical marijuana dispensaries until the fully 
fledged system is in place to regulate the production, processing and 
sale of recreational marijuana. Oregon voters in November approved 
Measure 91, which legalized possession of limited amounts of 
recreational marijuana on July 1. But the law made no provision for 
sales of recreational pot from the time it became legal until the 
Oregon Liquor Control Commission has a regulatory framework in place.

The OLCC may accept applications starting Jan. 4 for licenses to 
grow, process and sell recreational marijuana. It estimates retail 
shops will be up and running a year from now. Early recreational 
sales at medical marijuana dispensaries, which are regulated by the 
Oregon Health Authority, bridge that gap. The health authority has 
jurisdiction over those sales, which are tax free until Jan. 4. All 
sales are cash only.

"We've gotten a lot of notifications from dispensaries around the 
state," said Jonathan Modie, health authority spokesman, Thursday. 
"I'm betting today around 200 dispensaries have let us know they 
intend to do early sales."

Modie did not know how many dispensaries in Bend planned to take 
part. Participating dispensaries must hang a sign indicating that 
fact; those that don't must hang a sign that states that, too. In 
fact, the authority requires participating dispensaries hang signs 
cautioning pregnant or nursing mothers about the hazards of smoking 
marijuana and that warn of the dangers to children of ingesting 
marijuana. Dispensaries must also hang an "Educate Before You 
Recreate" poster that highlights the legal limits on recreational 
marijuana in Oregon. That's not all.

"They'll get something in their bag of goodies, a card, basically," 
Modie said, "a card (that) will provide similar education to what 
they saw on the wall and posters. Our job is to protect public 
health. It's very important to us that people have the information 
before, during and after they make a purchase so it's clear what they 
need to be thinking of if they're consuming or thinking of consuming 

The drug comes with short- and long-term health risks, said Candice 
Beathard, a Ph.D. in public health policy at Oregon State University 
with an emphasis on marijuana. She said users may experience 
immediate dizziness, short-term memory loss, dry mouth, increased 
heart rate and paranoia. In very rare cases, some users experience a 
temporary psychosis, she said..

"That's not seen a lot," Beathard said, "but it's a short-term risk."

Long term, users, particularly those in their teens, may become 
dependent on the drug. It may intensify schizophrenia, although 
researchers discount any causal link between the two, Beathard said. 
Also, using marijuana regularly may cause "poor educational 
outcomes," she said.

In other words, "smoking (marijuana) may affect your grades," she said.

Some experiments suggest marijuana impairs drivers far less than 
alcohol does, Beathard said, although driving under the influence of 
marijuana is illegal in Oregon.

"There is a consensus that there is a dose-response relationship," 
she said. "The more you smoke, the more you're likely to be involved 
in an accident."

Evidence suggests using marijuana even just a few times a week may 
have a lasting effect on the brains of children and young adults, 
said Elliot Berkman, a Ph.D. and assistant professor of psychology at 
University of Oregon.

"The evidence is really bad for kids," he said. "Child use is 
definitely worse than adult use."

Also, Berkman said, human brains continue to develop into the mid-20s 
age range. "If I were in that range, I would be concerned with 
starting marijuana use at age 21," he said.

Dispensary owners said they expect few customers unfamiliar with the 
product, but "budtenders" will be standing by for those who don't 
know a terpenes from trichomes or OG Kush from Cookie Wreck.

"There are several reserves we're going to tap into," Stapleton said. 
He also expects to have the second location, on Galveston Avenue, 
open by Thursday.

Lines may form outside Bend dispensaries and, once inside, customers 
may expect similar routines at each. A clerk will request 
identification to ensure the bearer is 21 years or older. Only a 
valid U.S.-, state-or tribal-issued photo ID is acceptable. Modie 
said the health authority's first concern is keeping marijuana out of 
minors' hands.

"Twenty-one and older," he said. "They need to show ID. They need to 
have that perfectly clear."

Next, the clerk will log the consumer into a tracking system. Most 
dispensaries employ software to comply with health authority 
regulations that they record for each sale the amount of product 
sold, the buyer's birth date, the sale price and sale date. 
Dispensaries are not required to record the buyer's name, but they 
must be able to identify anyone who attempts a second purchase on the 
same day. Dispensary owners interviewed for this report said they 
would probably take names and driver's license or ID card numbers.

Once inside, potential pot buyers may have to wait in a lobby until 
space becomes free in a separate sales area. The sales areas, some of 
them smaller spaces built to accommodate a slower-paced medicinal 
trade, may be limited to four or fewer customers. Others may allow as 
many inside as space and staff permit.

At Tokyo Starfish, two customers may peruse the dispensary menu on 
iPads while two others make their purchases. At Cannabend, 3312 N 
U.S. Highway 97, business partner Lizette Coppinger said she 
installed a third counter especially for recreational customers and a 
third point of sale for transactions.

"We want to get people in and out; people's time is valuable," she 
said. "I think the hype about it has settled down a little bit, so we 
don't expect big lines. But we won't be caught off guard."

Prices for a gram of marijuana in five shops surveyed range from $5 
to $15, depending on the quality and strain. Indoor-grown varieties 
high in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, typically cost more. THC is a 
psychoactive substance. Strains in which cannabidiol, or CBD, is 
prevalent typically relax the user. Hybrid varieties have 
characteristics of both.

Products must be labeled to indicate the relative strengths of those 
substances, although testing labs often determine widely varying 
results for the same sample. The products must also be tested for 
pesticides and mold and mildew and be labeled as such. The label must 
also indicate the test date, test batch and amount of product in the 
package. It must also bear a warning: "Medicinal product - Keep out 
of reach of children."

Coppinger said she's concerned about running low on marijuana, but 
others said they had no worries. Some dispensary owners grow their 
own marijuana; others rely on growers to supply them. Some do both.

Aviv Hadar, a partner at Oregrown, 1199 NW Wall St., said that 
dispensary will feature its own brands. He anticipates long lines and 
a celebratory atmosphere.

Some shops throw off a clinical vibe. Others resemble ice-cream 
parlors, their marijuana in tublike jars under glass. Tokyo Starfish 
is styled like a sushi restaurant. Hadar describes Oregrown as a 
fashion boutique.

Its partners planned ahead by prepackaging marijuana flights (similar 
to flights of beer or wine) in salable amounts, investing in stylish 
packaging and creating a smartphone app that allows consumers to 
peruse the Oregrown menu and order ahead, Hadar said. Like other 
dispensary owners, he said his shop plans on imparting a certain 
experience to the transaction. That may mean spending a few minutes 
to open sample jars and field questions.

"We're right downtown; we feel the need to represent a lot better 
than any dispensary," he said. "We plan on gift-wrapping for the 
holiday season."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom