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Early Pot Sales Begin Thursday In Oregon

Rachael McDonald

Early sales of recreational pot begin October 1st at medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon. A proprietor in downtown Eugene expects big things for the state's pot industry.

Flowr of Lyf medical marijuana dispensary opened a couple of weeks ago. Owner Morgan Glenn says he chose downtown because…

Glenn: "We like to be part of the culture, cultural scene of Eugene. This is where the bars are, the art galleries are, the new movie theaters. We like to be active within the community so this was just a perfect spot for us."

Glenn describes the shop as looking like an art gallery with custom graffiti art and locally made glass pipes on display.

Glenn: "This is our main dispensary in here."

Credit Rachael McDonald
Marijuana on display at Flowr of Lyfe.

The smell of marijuana is noticeable. Jars of pot flowers sit in locked glass cases. Right now, only people with medical marijuana cards can make purchases. Come Thursday, Glenn plans to sell to recreational users.
Modie: "Starting October 1st, registered marijuana dispensaries will be able to sell limited marijuana products. That includes seeds, immature marijuana plants, and dried leaves and flowers."

Jonathan Modie is with Oregon Health Authority which is overseeing early retail sales.

Modie says about 200 of the 345 Oregon medical dispensaries have submitted letters of intent to sell retail pot. He says there's been steady growth in the number of dispensaries around the state over the past few months. Most are concentrated around city centers. Voter-passed measure 91 legalized recreational marijuana in Oregon. A number of Oregon cities and counties, including Albany and Douglas County, have banned pot sales. Modie says there are lots of rules around the early sales:

Modie: "They must insure that only individuals 21 years or older that prove their age with a government-issued ID that's been verified by the dispensary employee can purchase marijuana products from a dispensary."

They must have very clear signage and high security so marijuana doesn't get into the hands of children.

Morgan Glenn's store is in the heart of downtown Eugene, right next to what's jokingly called "the Bar-muda triangle" where lots of partiers congregate late on weekend nights. But Glenn does not think having a pot dispensary here will contribute to the party scene.

Glenn: "No one's allowed to come in here and get inebriated. Nobody's allowed to ingest cannabis in the dispensary. We're more like a beer and wine store or a Safeway or a liquor store. And so people have to use responsibly when they go home."

Glenn doesn't expect long lines out the door on Thursday, like what was seen in Colorado when retail sales started.
Glenn: "There's a difference between Oregon and Colorado. Colorado didn’t have a culturally identified organic cannabis growing scene that has been nurtured for decades. So most people didn’t have any cannabis and it's not as easy to grow it out there either so everyone was coming to the store to buy it. A lot more people can get it on their own somewhere else here."

Glenn has big dreams for Oregon marijuana growers. He hopes pot will become legal nationwide soon and that the state will be a leading exporter of cannabis.

Glenn: "We will have a, a name for ourselves. Oregon will be, you know the micro brew industry kind of started here. And it's going to fan out the same way and we're going to be famous for it."
Oregon's early sales program is just a stop-gap. The state will begin accepting applications for retail pot shops in January. The medical dispensaries will sell recreational marijuana  through December 2016. Initially tax free.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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