Home Back Issues April 2014 Weed whackers

Weed whackers

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Article Index
Weed whackers
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

0414 pot mg 0744As of March 7, 281 dispensaries had applied to register with the state, the majority in Multnomah County. In Portland neighborhoods like Irvington and Hawthorne, nondescript dispensary storefronts are often distinguishable only by their most conspicuous marking: a green cross that owes all but its color to the Red Cross logo. From the outside, they look like veterinary clinics. From the inside, many resemble a dentist’s office.

The sheer number of dispensaries cropping up in Portland hints at the entrepreneurial chord that has been struck by the state regulations. But the atmosphere in rural Oregon is distinctly different. 

Consider J’s Green House, a medical marijuana dispensary in Roseburg. There is no green cross, and no mistaking it for a veterinary clinic or dentist’s office. Instead, crossing a set of train tracks that run parallel to the highway leads to an empty lot, the final resting place of 10 small, moldering boats. In the distance sits a pair of large unmarked hangars.

Its anonymity is hardly surprising, considering the city of Roseburg has never approved a business license for J’s Green House or any other medical marijuana dispensary, according to Koree Tate, an assistant at the Office of the City Manager. 

Another unlicensed Roseburg dispensary is operated by “Mary,” a middle-aged woman who works alone, helping people manage their pain the way she once helped her husband, after he was diagnosed with cancer some years ago. “I know we’re listed as a dispensary online, but we really aren’t a dispensary,” she says. “I just help connect patients with growers who can get them what they need. I’m only a middleman.”

What Mary is in the middle of is the legal business of providing marijuana to OMMP cardholders and the illegal business of cultivating marijuana plants. Oregon is the fourth-largest indoor-cannabis-producing state, and the 10th-largest cannabis-producing state overall. But paradoxically, much of the potent crop that the state is famous for producing ends up in out-of-state illicit markets rather than in legal dispensaries. It is equally ironic that the legitimization of the marijuana business has yet to yield positive returns in places like Roseburg, which sits at the northern edge of the banana belt, where the agreeable climate and soil nurture many of the state’s more than 100 outdoor-cannabis farms.

This is because cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, which doesn’t differentiate between crops destined for legal or illegal markets. In the eyes of the federal government, it’s all the same, so doing business out in the open is risky. James Bowman, owner of Jackson County’s High Hopes Farm, found this out the hard way in late 2012, when agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raided his operation. According to The Oregonian, Bowman’s farm was set to deliver medical marijuana to more patients than any other single source in the state.

Growers can also run afoul of federal tax laws, since, under federal law, only the cost of materials can be accounted for. In other words, the labor costs associated with growing marijuana are illegal, even for those growing plants on behalf of registered OMMP cardholders. This often leads farmers, like Bowman, to pay field hands in product, further drawing the ire of authorities.

These problems will be alleviated under the registry system, which will allow, for the first time, the honest accounting of labor in growing medical marijuana, according to dispensary operators. Operators will be required to keep detailed records, which the state will check during a regular annual inspection. Dispensary owners will also trade the watchful eye of the Oregon State Drug Enforcement Agency for two state inspectors assigned to the registry program.

But Southern Oregon’s pot farms face other threats — competition from rapidly expanding indoor-grow operations in cities like Portland and Eugene.



 

More Articles

Green Endeavor cleans up

News
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
080614 ULnew greenendeavorBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.


Read more...

Q&A: David Lively of Organically Grown Co.

News
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
OGCLogoBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

OB Video: Dress for Success

News
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
DFSOBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.


Read more...

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

The global challenge

News
Friday, June 27, 2014
062714 thumb globalmarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS