Given the 11-month march from when recreational marijuana was legalized to today — the first day people can buy non-medical pot over the counter in Oregon — it is understandable that phones have been ringing off the hook at medical marijuana dispensaries in Roseburg all week.
The anticipation started to resemble Black Friday, when many shiny new gadgets and video games hit the shelves.
“Some people called us and asked us when they can start camping,” said Shellie Grammer, the owner of Cougar Cannabis at 1989 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd. “We said no, because that would be loitering.”
That didn’t stop people from calling and asking, again and again. Now, people in Oregon over the age of 21 can purchase marijuana almost as easily as they can alcohol. Marijuana flowers, seeds and live plants can be purchased, though there are limits to the amounts one can buy in a single day.
Today’s legalization is yet another step in the progression of marijuana sales in Oregon after the plant became OK to consume on July 1. Allowing medical dispensaries to sell early was designed to curb black-market sales while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission gets squared away. Retailers licensed by the OLCC won’t open until January 2016.
Now, more than 200 of Oregon’s 345 medical marijuana dispensaries have told the Oregon Health Authority they plan to sell recreational pot, too.
“All we’re doing is filling in the void until the OLCC can issue its permits,” said Jim Hoyt, the manager of the 420 Club at 2574 N.E. Stephens St.
For the time being, the medical marijuana dispensaries will report to both the Oregon Health Authority and the OLCC, requiring that they keep separate books. Hoyt said the 420 Club invested $7,000 just to set up a new point-of-sale system for recreational users and built a separate room for the recreational business to be conducted.
“We’re basically setting up a brand new store,” Hoyt said. “It’s kind of a shot in the dark because no one can predict how the rules will change come January when the state-licensed retailers come. Everything we’re doing now may be void soon,” he said.
Grammer and her dispensary manager, Libby Eagan, have been preparing for the floodgates to open, however. It’s been more than a month since the Roseburg City Council voted against prohibiting early sales of marijuana — more than enough time for the dispensary to beef up security and hire extra help.
“I’ve re-read the rules and regulations hundreds of times — and that’s not an exaggeration,” Grammer said. “With all the phone calls we’ve been receiving, we’re prepared for it to be crazy.”
The shelves behind the counter at Cougar Cannabis separate recreational marijuana from medical. Of the 19 total strains sold, only seven will be offered for recreational sales. Unlike medical marijuana, recreational marijuana is vacuum-sealed into sleek, black packaging and labeled by weight, which is a requirement the OLCC established.
Still, Grammer said she expects to quadruple her usual sales figures by the time the day is done. The dispensary expanded its hours, as well.
“I think we’re going to be swamped. I’m nervous,” said Kimmy Williams, the manager of La Mota at 644 S.E. Cass St. “I think we’ll double (our business) at least. So many people have been coming by asking when they can buy it.”
By Troy Brynelson -NR Today/Oct. 1, 2015