Pubdate: Thu, 01 Oct 2015
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Copyright: 2015 The Olympian
Authors: Jonathan J. Cooper and Terrence Petty, Associated Press


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Excited shoppers looking to score some of the 
first recreational marijuana sold legally in Oregon bought up baggies 
of bud early Thursday, taking advantage of door-buster prices and other deals.

Some of the more than 250 dispensaries that already offer medical 
marijuana in the state welcomed recreational users soon after 
midnight - just moments after it became legal to sell to anyone who 
is at least 21.

At Shango Premium Cannabis in Portland, co-founder Shane McKee said 
the first sale came about a minute after midnight and many others 
quickly followed.

"I think it's not only historical for folks in Oregon, but nationwide 
- - anytime people start selling that as an alternative to alcohol or 
tobacco," he said in a telephone interview.

Brad Zusman, co-owner of Canna Daddy's in Portland, said more than 90 
customers bought pot in the first two hours after the store opened at 7 a.m.

He said customers told him they've "been waiting all their lives for 
a moment like this." He expected to sell $60,000 worth of marijuana 
throughout the day.

There were no reports of arrests or other problems involving the 
early sales in the state. Most stores planned to open later in the day.

Oregon is one of four states that have legalized the sale of 
recreational marijuana.

Business began in Oregon with far more dispensaries than did Colorado 
or Washington state, where pot shops have been up and running for 
more than a year. Alaska could begin retail sales next year.

Foster Buds PDX in Portland had a couple hundred customers since 
opening just after midnight, shop manager Ken Martin said.

"It's just been a steady flow," he said, adding that employees 
repeatedly refilled jars with pot to meet the demand.

Two customers who came in had just turned 21, he said.

Davia Fleming of Portland, the first buyer at McKee's store, said the 
atmosphere was upbeat for the launch of the new industry.

"It's the end of a prohibition," said Fleming, who uses the drug for 
medicinal purposes.

The store offered its first 25 customers 35 to 40 percent discounts 
and was handing out soda, coffee, juice and other refreshments, McKee said.

Many stores in Oregon were trying to lure customers with extended 
hours, food giveaways and discounted marijuana.

Shoppers have one more incentive to buy early and often: Under Oregon 
law, pot purchases will be tax-free until January - a savings of up 
to 20 percent.

Store owners say they are hopeful they can avoid the shortages and 
price spikes that followed the start of legal sales last year in 
Washington and Colorado. Alaska could begin retail sales next year.

One store offered a goody bag with T-shirts, but no free marijuana. 
Another will have a live band and 10 percent discounts.

Several stores have erected billboards in Portland. A shop in Merlin 
is advertising on the radio.

"I'm just trying to basically stock up for maybe four or five times 
what the normal volume would be," said Chris Byers, owner of River 
City Dispensary in Merlin.

Customers can buy as much as 7 grams at a time of dried marijuana 
flower and leaf - the part that's generally smoked - plus plants and seeds.

For the next year or so, pot-infused candy, cookies, oils and lotions 
will be available only to people with medical marijuana cards as the 
state works on retail regulations for those products.

Oregon has a robust supply system that has supported medical 
marijuana users and the black market. Companies have invested in 
massive warehouses in Portland to grow the drug indoors, and southern 
Oregon has some of the nation's best conditions for outdoor cultivation.

Growers don't face strict regulations yet, so the supply can more 
easily flow into retail stores than it did in Washington and Colorado.

Still, there is concern. Summer has historically been a time of 
marijuana shortages in Oregon, and most of the outdoor crop is not 
ready to harvest. Indoor growers have had minimal time to ramp up 
production, because lawmakers only approved the Oct. 1 start date 
three months ago.

"We have kind of a seasonal growing market here in Oregon," said 
Jeremy Pratt, owner of Nectar Cannabis, which has four stores in 
Portland. "We have lots of product in the fall, and then it kind of 
gets tight this time of year anyway."

Green Oasis, which has two locations in Portland and more on the way, 
has prepared by trying to cultivate strong relationships with growers.

It will entice customers Thursday evening with an outdoor band and 
offer a 10 percent discount to those who spend at least $40, co-owner 
Matthew Schwimmer said.

"We don't know of anyone else doing a band, and we thought it was a 
good idea to give back to the community," Schwimmer said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom