Like a lot of medical marijuana dispensary owners in Oregon, Shane McKee has been growing cannabis for years. But he hopes his two Portland dispensaries — Shango Premium Cannabis –- are distinct enough in their appearance and products to set them apart in the state’s competitive medical marijuana retail market.
McKee, 45, a former residential building contractor who lives in Damascus, has hired branding, publicity and political consultants from Las Vegas. His sleek shops, including one in a high-traffic spot near Portland International Airport, stock only marijuana grown at McKee’s grow facility. (Many dispensaries include marijuana grown by multiple growers.)
McKee opened his first shop at 8056 S.E. Harold St about five weeks ago. The second shop, located in a strip mall on Northeast Win Sivers Drive, opens Thursday.
McKee took a few minutes to talk Wednesday about Oregon’s medical marijuana industry and the upcoming vote on legalizing cannabis. (His answers have been edited for length and clarity.)
Q: What kind of experience do you want people coming into this dispensary to have?
McKee: I want it to feel normal, mainstream, like you are going into Verizon or any professional retail establishment with a clear flow of traffic; easy-to-purchase, non-contaminated products; and professional packages.
Q: How would you describe the Portland medical marijuana dispensary market?
McKee: Exciting, new. It’s in its infancy. We are all trying to learn. We are all trying to comply. We are really focused on trying to find ways to fit into the community and not be seen as less than desirable.
Q: Did you encounter opposition when you moved into the airport location?
McKee: We really didn’t. I think our presence is less threatening. We have a professional look, not a big pot leaf outside. We don’t want to hurt our neighbors. I don’t want it to be a burden for us to be here.
Q: A lot of dispensaries have green crosses on their signs or names that include medical marijuana. You don’t. Why?
McKee: Just to be different. We thought with proper advertising it wouldn’t be necessary to use the traditional green cross. We just want to look different than other companies around.
Q: Polls show next week’s vote on recreational marijuana will be tight. If Measure 91 fails, what does that mean for your business?
McKee: Our whole business plan is based on a medicinal market. Of course we would be ecstatic if (recreational marijuana) passed. As a business we are not counting our eggs before they hatch. We can operate just the way we are. We have a solid model that says we will be successful doing so.
— Noelle Crombie