Recreational marijuana sales begin in Oregon

The sale of recreational marijuana will be tax-free until 2016

An employee at the medical marijuana dispensary Kaya Shack displays different types of marijuana flowers sold at the shop in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)
An employee at the medical marijuana dispensary Kaya Shack displays different types of marijuana flowers sold at the shop in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time ever, recreational marijuana is being sold legally to adults over 21 in the state of Oregon.

“It’s going to be extremely busy,” Shane McKee, co-owner of Shango Premium Cannabis, told KOIN 6 News on Wednesday night.

McKee and his staff spent the night setting up shop at their dispensary on SE Harold Street, expecting a rush of customers once the clock struck midnight on October 1.

A cannabis bud rests on a container at Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, Ore., Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
A cannabis bud rests on a container at Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, Ore., Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

“The whole team has been preparing a couple of years for this,” he said.

Although recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon on July 1, the state prohibited sales for 3 months as lawmakers discussed oversight.

State officials originally planned to hold off on recreational sales until 2016.

“The early start was a little bit of a surprise for us,” McKee said. “We thought we had until third quarter next year, and here we are third quarter this year.”

The state won’t be ready to begin regulated sales until next year. As a temporary stop-gap and to curb black market sales, state lawmakers voted to allow early sales of recreational marijuana tax-free.

The Oregon Health Authority gave more than 100 medical marijuana dispensaries the green light to begin recreational sales on Thursday. But more than 250 medical shops across the state say they have plans to sell recreational pot in the future.

Meanwhile, a group of parents in the Parkrose neighborhood say they hope the kickoff of recreational marijuana sales in Oregon will start a conversation.

Members of the group 'Normalize Marijuana' hope recreational sales will start a conversation about breaking down stereotypes. (KOIN)
Attendees of the ‘Normalize Marijuana’ event hope recreational sales will start a conversation about breaking down stereotypes. (KOIN)

“This is something that’s happening in mainstream society,” Normalize Marijuana organizer Leah Maurer said. “This is about breaking down stereotypes and preconceived notions that people might have about marijuana users.”

Maurer says it’s going to be an adjustment for everyone.

“Even if it’s not something you agree with, or not something that you choose to use or that you are comfortable being around, it’s still an important time,” she said. “We, as citizens of Oregon, are going to be walking this walk of new recreational, legal marijuana sales together.”

Lois Pariseau of Gras Cannabis said his dispensary’s “bud tenders” are ready to educate new users about pot. And anyone wanting to buy should first understand what is and isn’t allowed.

Adults over 21 can buy a quarter ounce of buds. Candy bars and brownies, as well as extracts, concentrates and marijuana-infused products are not available in early sales. Customers must provide a valid, government-issued photo ID as proof of age.

A marijuana plant grows in a yard in Portland's Parkrose neighborhood. (KOIN)
A marijuana plant grows in a yard in Portland’s Parkrose neighborhood. (KOIN)

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council passed an ordinance to limit the hours of operation for local dispensaries. It also blocked stores that sell recreational pot from operating within 1,000 feet of each other.

Some cities and counties voted to prohibit early retail sales of marijuana. They include Douglas and Harney counties, Gresham, Brownsville, John Day, Junction City, La Grande, Reedsport and Sherwood.

The hotline number 503.823.9333 has been set up for Oregonians who wish to file nuisance complaints about dispensaries in their neighborhood.

For an interactive map and directory of medical dispensaries selling recreational marijuana, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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