Pubdate: Fri, 02 Oct 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Noelle Crombie


Oregon opened its recreational market Thursday to festive and orderly 
crowds eager to make their first legal purchase of pot.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority gave 245 medical marijuana 
dispensaries the go-ahead to sell cannabis to anyone 21 and older, 
though the agency does not know how many stores actually sold the 
drug on Thursday.

The sheer number of marijuana outlets meant most shoppers didn't 
endure extra long wait times that marked the opening days of 
regulated marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington, the only 
other places where pot is sold in state-regulated stores.

In Portland, more than 100 stores told the state they planned to sell 
recreational cannabis.

Consumers who've long relied on black market sources celebrated a new 
era of retail access to pot. Many lined up at a handful of shops that 
opened just after midnight.

"I've been looking forward to this day for many years," said Mike 
Coleman, 49, of Southeast Portland, who said he previously obtained 
marijuana "from private sources" but on Thursday waited in line 
outside of Farma on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard.

The launch of the recreational market in Oregon was not without 
bumps. The health authority, which is still ramping up its staff of 
inspectors, had just one on the ground Thursday.

The inspector stopped by five dispensaries and spotted a range of 
violations. Some had failed to post public health warnings about 
their products. Others were handing out free marijuana, including 
cannabis-infused gummy candies.

Product giveaways are not allowed on dispensary property, according 
to state rules.

"We have distributed a ton of information and warnings about 
giveaways," said Jonathan Modie, a health authority spokesman who 
accompanied the inspector on Thursday.

Modie said some dispensaries he visited were checking IDs but did not 
have a system for making sure the same customer did not return to buy 
more that day.

The state does not require that stores record a customer's name, but 
they are supposed to prevent the same customer from purchasing more 
than what's allowed in a single day.

"Unless the person checking IDs remembers that person came in before, 
it's going to be difficult to know that person was already there 
earlier in the day," said Modie.

Nothing in the state's rules keeps consumers from going to other 
shops to purchase more during the course of a day.

 From the consumer's point of view, the day was a success.

A line of about 50 people lined up outside of Shango in Hillsboro 
Thursday morning. At 10 a.m., owner Adrian Perte opened the doors, 
announcing, "Here we go! Here we go!"

The crowd cheered. Passing motorists honked their horns. Perte said 
he thought inventory would be sufficient to meet demand.

"We have a feeling that we're going to have quite the large crowd in 
the next few weeks," said Perte.

Foster Buds in Southeast Portland opened at midnight and did brisk 
business until dawn, said budtender Justin Hames, 26. More than 100 
people streamed into the shop in the early morning hours for $15 
cannabis plants and dried flowers, which sold for $9 to $15 a gram.

In all, the shop sold about a pound of flowers and 20 marijuana 
plants between midnight and 5 a.m., said Hames.

"It's been extremely professional, fun and organized," said Hames, as 
customers browsed jars of flowers. The top selling marijuana strains 
came with names like: Galactic Jack, Girl Scout Cookies, Blue Dream 
and Tranquil Elephantize.

Not everyone saw the day as a cause for celebration.

Laura Burningham was unhappy to see Calyxes, a marijuana dispensary 
in Southwest Portland's Multnomah Village neighborhood, operating 
near her child's preschool.

She said she worries about the lack of research on marijuana and its 
potential health implications. Plus, she said the state hasn't done 
enough to address marijuana use among young people.

Said Burningham: "We'll just have to be more diligent with our 
children individually."

Westside Wellness in Beaverton sold nearly a day's worth of 
marijuana, plants and seeds in the first hour and a half after 
opening, said co-owner Claudia Lavander.

Bill Roberts, 37, of Forest Grove, was among those in line.

"I'm taking my receipt today," Roberts said, "and I'm framing it."

Oregonians last year said yes to legalizing marijuana, but the Oregon 
Liquor Control Commission is not expected to unveil a regulated 
industry until next year. Since July, marijuana possession has been 
legal in Oregon. Recreational sales, however, were expected to begin 
until late next year. But Oregon lawmakers decided to speed up the 
timetable for recreational sales. They approved a temporary sales 
program that allows people to make limited purchases from already 
established dispensaries, which are overseen by the health authority.

Those businesses may sell up to a quarter-ounce of dried flowers, 
roughly enough for seven to 12 joints, as well as four starter plants 
and an unlimited number of seeds to people 21 and older.

At Tree House Collective on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Robert Huff, 
52, a photographer, bought two grams of dried flowers.

A longtime pot smoker, Huff said the ability to legally buy cannabis 
eased some of the stigma surrounding the drug.

"I don't have to feel like I'm doing something wrong that I never 
really thought was wrong," he said.

Huff, who works near the shop, couldn't resist stepping inside. "The 
draw was too much," he said. "I parked and I was like, 'Well, I gotta 
go over.'"

Marijuana activist Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of Measure 91, 
bought a gram of the strain, Trainwreck, at Cannabliss & Co. in 
Southeast Portland.

He vowed to save it for posterity.

"Hopefully," said Johnson, "it will find its way into a museum 
someday as a piece of history."

Jim Ryan, Anna Marum, Rich Read, Amy Wang, Wendy Owen and Melissa 
Binder of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom