PORTLAND, Ore. — Sales of recreational marijuana began after midnight Thursday in Oregon as some dispensaries opened their doors early moments after it became legal for those 21 and older to purchase pot.
More than 200 of the state’s 345 medical cannabis dispensaries have registered to sell recreational pot.
While anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID can buy recreational weed, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients who are under 21 can still purchase cannabis as long as they have a valid program card.
Consumers are only allowed to buy flowers, seeds and clone plants until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission — which will be regulating legal marijuana sometime next year — irons out its rules.
At Portland’s Shango Premium Cannabis, co-founder Shane McKee said the first sale to an excited customer came about a minute after midnight, with many others waiting.
“It looks like there is about 60-70 in line out front,” he said in a telephone interview shortly after midnight. “They all seem extremely eager.”
That first buyer, Davia Fleming of Portland, said the sales launch was important.
“I was really excited about that,” said Fleming, who uses the drug for medicinal purposes. “It’s the end of a prohibition.”
A shop can sell up to a quarter of an ounce (about seven grams) of cannabis buds or pre-rolled joints at a time. Consumers could technically buy four times that in a day to get to the legal limit you can have in public, which is an ounce.
Customers also can purchase four starter plants or an unlimited number of seeds to grow pot at home.
Tinctures, hash, dabs, edibles, topicals or any other processed cannabis products are prohibited. Medical marijuana patients, on the other hand, will still be able to purchase the concentrated items in stores.
Store owners say they’re hopeful they can avoid the shortages and price spikes that followed the start of legal sales last year in Washington and Colorado, the only other states where the drug can now be sold for recreational use. Alaska could begin retail sales next year.
Recreational cannabis purchases are tax free until Jan. 4, when it will be taxed by 25%.
Brothers Cannabis Club also opened its doors at midnight. However, others are abiding by the limited hours set by the Portland City Council on Wednesday. The council voted to limit operating hours for dispensaries to between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. But the city can’t enforce those hours until shops have a license from the city, which won’t be available until December. Until then, they can operate anytime, day or night.
Some stores were trying to lure customers with giveaways and food.
Green Oasis in Sellwood is hosting a block party, featuring the Garcia Birthday Band. Cannacea will have free samples, giveaways and a live band. Leafly, an online review site for pot shops, will have food carts at Bridge City’s two locations, as well as AmeriCannaRX and Natural Rxemedies.
The Oregon Health Authority is requiring participating retail shops to record details of the marijuana sale (type of product, how much, birth date of customer, and date of sale) in order to avoid selling more than the legal limit to the same person in one day. Recreational users can have up to an ounce in public and eight ounces of usable weed in their homes.
Oregon has a robust supply system for marijuana that has supported medical marijuana users and the black market. Companies have invested in massive warehouses in Portland to grow the drug indoors, and southern Oregon has some of the nation’s best conditions for outdoor cultivation of marijuana.
Growers don’t face strict regulations yet, so the supply can more easily flow into retail stores than it did in Washington and Colorado.