Where to buy legal marijuana in Washington County after Jan. 1
Starting Jan. 1, marijuana shops needrf a license to sell recreational weed. But a backlog means that a number of Washington County marijuana shops aren't able to sell to anyone other than medical marijuana cardholders.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with new information, and an updated list of licensed marijuana retail shops.
Several Oregon marijuana retailers weren't able to sell recreational marijuana this week, because they're still awaiting their recreational sales licenses from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
The OLCC hasn't been able to keep up with the large volume of applications, according to the agency. In addition, some applicants still haven't provided all the necessary materials.
Many local shops will have to scramble to try to make it solely on medical marijuana sales while recreational users will have fewer places to legally buy cannabis starting this month. That includes buyers in Washington County, where only two-thirds of the county's roughly two dozen marijuana stores has received its license for recreational sales.
About 330 retailers statewide, and more than 900 total labs, processors, producers and wholesalers are also waiting for their recreational marijuana licenses as of The Tribune's press deadline.
50 staffers working on it
Oregon voters approved recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older in 2014, but there was no place to legally buy it until October of 2015. That's when a law kicked in that allowed existing medical dispensaries to sell to people without medical marijuana cards.
That law gave the state time to set up a separate licensing system for recreational stores, administrated by the OLCC.
But the law expired Jan. 1 and there is still a stack of 300 applications for recreational retail shops in various approval stages assigned to OLCC staff members, as well as an additional 30 waiting to be assigned, as of Dec. 30, according to the agency.
There are about 50 OLCC staff members assigned to approving licenses, according to Mark Pettinger, spokesperson for the OLCC's recreational marijuana program. While applications are not segregated by type when assigned, the OLCC recently prioritized all retail applications, especially for dispensaries converting to retail.
In Hillsboro, all three pot shops were allowed to continue selling to recreational customers on Jan. 1, but they were the lucky few.
Adrian Perte, who owns Shango Premium Cannabis on TV Highway in Hillsboro, is one of 188 lucky retailers that had already received their license by Sunday's deadline. Employees at Shango said that more than half of its sales come from recreational customers. When it started selling to recreational customers in October, the store said that more than 90 percent of its business was going to recreational users.
Unlicensed sales could cost $500
The licensing process includes filling out an application, paying a fee and showing a certificate that ensures store staff have completed the training for tracking marijuana from the plant to the
final product, among other things.
Pettinger said it takes three or four weeks to get a recreational sales license — or less time if the applicants are prepared with all the required information.
Andre Ourso, manager of the medical marijuana program at the Oregon Health Authority which manages the state's community of medical dispensaries, said that stores without recreational licenses could face fines, starting at $500 per violation, if they continue to sell to recreational users.
"We will have a presence in the field and we will be dropping in and doing some spot checks on medical dispensaries to make sure that they are only selling to cardholders," said Ourso.
Businesses with recreational licenses — known as retail stores under the OLCC program, not "dispensaries," which are managed by the Oregon Health Authority — can sell to medical marijuana patients, including some products that are not legal on the recreational market.
Medical marijuana dispensaries still have an important role, especially in parts of Oregon where local regulations prohibit recreational sales but allow medical sales.
List of approved retailers:
• Westside Wellness, 18918 SW Shaw St.
• Green Mart LLC, 12745 S.W. Walker Road
• Growing ReLeaf, 4160 S.W. 109th Ave.
• Stone Age Farmacy, 8621 S.W. Canyon Drive
• La Mota, 3695 SW Elliott Place
• Blooming Deals, 15915 NW Schendel Ave.
• Shango Premium Cannabis, 3821 Pacific Ave.
• Shango Premium Cannabis, 1775 S.E. Tualatin Valley Highway
• Mahalo, 353 S.W. Walnut St.
• Parlour Cannabis Shoppe, 4702 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road, Portland
• The Green Planet, 10022 S.W. Canyon Road, Portland
• The Herbary, 11642 S.W. Pacific Highway
• Chalice Farms, 16735 S.W. Pacific Highway
Geoff Pursinger and Chris Lehman/Oregon Public Broadcasting contributed to this article. Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of the Pamplin Media Group.