Producing in Madras Oregon is going to happen.
With recreational cannabis becoming a viable and lucrative source of revenue for cities, counties and subsidiary businesses like pipe shops and canna-investors, people producing in Madras don’t want to get left behind. People are finding out that when Americans spend money on bongs instead of bombs, a lot of good can be done right here at home. Municipalities that have engaged with the cannabis community have found that taxing and regulating the substance can provide substantial benefits to their budgets and education since a portion of the taxes goes to funding the chronically underfunded public schools.
The time for celebration IS at hand but we must keep our wits about us and realize that there are a myriad of potholes to avoid and detours the cannabus can take down the line. One area that got plenty of attention during the most recent round of regulation meetings by the Madras City Cannabis Regulation Committee is distributors and wholesalers. This is one of the last that will be held with public comments so most of the official language is already in place. Local dispensary owner Mike Boynton (Pictured Below) has been part of the industry leaders that have helped guide the wording of the regulations as a committee member. Several other dispensary owners also sit on the board which adds a much needed balance to the interests involved.
During the early July meeting, there was a lot of time spent covering the regulations around processors, producers and labs.
With all of the press about political candidates, mass shootings and pocket monsters it can be easy to forget that even though Oregonians voted to legalize unlicensed adult use of cannabis that the rest of the process is more than a mop up operation. Decisions are being made every day now and many of the people that have led the charge are finally in legitimate spheres of influence and able to enact meaningful change.
I did not know this until I was present for a couple meetings but state law doesn’t prevent people with methamphetamine convictions from owning or operating a recreational dispensary or production facility. I’m certain this was done on purpose but that hasn’t deterred local authorities from adding language to local regulations that effectively bar these individuals from engaging in the legal sales of cannabis. Local regulations in Madras were drafted with the express intention of preventing these types of individuals from engaging with the rest of the cannabis legalization movement.
The desire to keep dispensaries classy is something I appreciate.
I feel that meth and its position in American drug culture is scandalous. I have personally been burned by people on meth more than any other demographic so I feel that we should keep that out of an industry struggling to come out of the shadows and prove its benign message. The City of Madras accomplished excluding “meth heads” as they were referred to by members of the committee like Officer Danner by including schedule 2 convictions in their criteria for disqualification for licensing.
Like I said, I agree that we need to be very careful about who the cannabis community actively engages with. I struggle with the idea of targeting a single demographic of substance users because of how often I have been on the other end of that judgment. This fear was brought up within the committee hearings and they found a middle ground that didn’t have the explicit targeting but accomplished the end goal. This feels to me like the best way for regulators to guide the community towards integration without opening themselves up to excessive litigation or notoriously shady characters. I feel that we need to find a way to curb the propensity of doctors from over-prescribing addictive opiates and amphetamine derivatives more than preventing people with convictions from finding legal work but that is a topic for another time.
The City of Madras Committee has made active attempts to mirror the language for medical with recreational sales and regulations.
It’s not a 1-for-1 rework of the medical regulations though. There are many areas where medical regulations cannot be directly ported over to recreational side of things. One example of that difference is purchasing limits. People like me were a bit taken aback when they got the weight and concentration limits for non-flower medications earlier this year. The limits seemed designed to prevent a normal person from engaging in business as usual. I love buying ounces or quarter pounds and only getting a quarter of an ounce-ish ( actual 1/4 oz = 8.0 grams, weed 1/4 oz = 7 grams WTF!) at a time limits my purchasing power and limits the profit that companies can make from each transaction. There will be more things that seem to arbitrarily hurt the average consumer as time goes on. We are about to get some real sticker shock in October when the new rules and regulations kick in.
Part of the sticker shock will come from the state taxes that will start kicking for producers.
Everyone should know about the 17% tax on recreational cannabis that the state mandates but that is not the only fee that will be going up. The cost of testing, production, distribution and licensing are all going to jump when the new regulations come online. Prices for consumers are going to change up again as companies and municipalities struggle to conform to the new rules.
Rules like only being able to process or produce in a “building made of fully enclosed metal, wood, concrete, brick or other traditional building material.” The building must also conform to the other rules and regulations set up by the city like having 3 architectural features, emit no light from dusk til dawn around the airport and a myriad of other bylaws and regulations already on the books.
How can these strange rules affect the everyday consumer? I’m glad you asked.
The rules limit what kind of buildings can be used in producing cannabis and therefore reduce the number of locations for an entrepreneur to set up shop. This has the dual effect of reducing the number of locations and increasing the price landlords can charge in rent. A dispensary that has to pay $1500 a month on the property is in a much better market position than a similar dispensary with a rent of $2500 a month. Fee’s, licensing, equipment and software are all areas where cost are going to increase for everyone at almost every stage on the business end of things.
Customers are going to have to fork out more of those hard-earned greenbacks because businesses aren’t going to absorb those costs with a smile.
People get into the cannabusiness for many reasons but getting to make less money is rarely a motivating factor. The fact that people are producing their own is not going to make things any cheaper for the mass market. As someone who has tried the ‘it’ll be cheaper to just grow my own’ method, I can say that it doesn’t work quite like that. Nobody is producing high grade cannabis without high grade systems in place.
Just like growing any crop, there is efficiency in scale and experience. Ask anyone who grows award winning roses or orchids if it’s as simple as watering some seeds in the backyard and you will learn the truth: Doing anything well requires dedication, education and talent. Growing dank herb is no different and doing it well is incredibly difficult and time intensive.
By the end of the year we will see the new rules for producing in action and get to see first-hand how liberal or conservative the leadership of Madras and America in general will be on the topic of legal weed. The good and bad of it is that these kind of things go through a series of edits and revisions. This means that the exact wording in any of the rules and regulations on the table right now could change before the August deadline for submissions. This could make things more restrictive and further reduce the 100 or so acres of industrial land that is available in Madras. It could also open up new possibilities for big producers to come in and flood the market with industrially grown cannabis which would devastate the locally grown market.
Industry officials are not leaving this entirely in the hands of fate.
All of the Madras dispensary owners were at the meeting, offering insight and voicing concerns side by side with the city council members. Producing cannabis in Madras is going to be treated much like producing anything else. In a time when it seems that everything is divided into ideological sides, it’s nice to see that people can work together for the benefit of the whole. While it was clear that several of the committee members were very concerned with nefarious nighttime activities, the group was able to explore their concerns at length without getting heated or overly agitated.
I feel that Madras has taken the right steps and put good people into the correct positions to get recreational cannabis off on the right foot. Dispensary owners like Mike Boynton (Central Organics) and city planners like Janet Brown (Economic Development Manager) along with all the other in attendance have worked hard to ensure that the local regulations for recreational cannabis mirror that of the well-established medical regulations. There are a few additional precautions that have been worked out to help ensure public health, economic viability and industry sustainability beyond the state mandates like restricting participation of people convicted of meth crimes.
Only time will tell if the choices made by Oregonians are sound.
I feel that the future has a glimmer of hope if more municipalities are able to find common ground and mutual respect like Madras has. The respect part is of special concern as well with all of the recent problems with law enforcement. I didn’t hear the police or city officials ever speak derogatorily or demean the recreational cannabis crowd in the meetings or after.When I asked if the committee was planning for the state to merge rec and med producing licenses in the future, they replied that it was assumed the two cannabis systems would merge in the near future so the closer they could make regulations between the two the better.
There seemed to be a consensus around the room that the medical/recreational market merger was close at hand.
I was initially concerned that medical patients with issues like cancer or leukemia would be put out if the system was merged but after speaking with over two dozen dispensary owners in different parts of the state, I am hard pressed to believe it would change their lives much. People who use their medical card to make some money on the side might not be as happy. It is the price of keeping people out of prison for producing cannabis though and I for one think the net benefits outweigh the net losses. Like flowers in the summer rain, it can get pretty dark and heavy before something beautiful happens. Until next time, thanks for reading.