- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - With medical marijuana shops opening their doors in Oregon and the prospect of a statewide legalization vote this fall, the pot business is emerging from underground into the fluorescent light of hotel conference rooms.

About 400 people attended the opening day of a medical marijuana conference at the Hilton Eugene on Sunday. Passes for the two-day event cost $349, the Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1pFOOm9) reported.

Participants were there for advice on topics such as breaking into the business and government regulations. They were also checking out and touting the latest goods: hash oils and gels, marijuana-infused edibles and smoking or “vaping” accessories.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon have operated in a gray area for more than a decade. Last year, the Legislature put them on a legal footing.

With regulations now set, dispensaries are opening, although some local governments are taking advantage of the Legislature’s action giving them authority to impose one-year moratoriums.

Participants foresee even more opportunities if Oregon voters follow the lead of those in Colorado and Washington to legalize recreational marijuana. Two legalization initiatives could be on the ballot.

“You’ve got those who want to play the ‘long game,’ those who want to make a quick buck, those who just don’t want to miss the boat completely,” said dispensary and business consultant Ben Mackaness of Corvallis as he staffed a booth Sunday. “We’ve truly reached a tipping point.”

Some were like Steve Prinster, a 53-year-old Gold Beach resident and a medical marijuana cardholder, who was interested in becoming a grower or processor, or perhaps a full-time hemp farmer. “Maybe I can find a little niche,” he said.

David Cox of Springfield said he’d found one.

Using an initial $6,000 investment, he started a company last year called Dr. Vape that sells battery-powered “dome vaporizers,” also known as “pens.” Resembling an electronic cigarette with a bulbous glass attachment, the device can be used to vaporize a potent marijuana-based wax concentrate.

“It’s one of the trendiest ways” to consume marijuana, said Cox.

The vaporizers are manufactured in China and sell in kits that cost $60 to $130. He said Dr. Vape is already doing $100,000 in annual sales.

Russ Belville, the host of a marijuana-focused online talk radio show, told conference attendees the resistance to pot dispensaries among local governments will subside once officials start seeing tax revenues.

He said he was optimistic about the prospects for a fall legalization campaign: “We’re winning this battle, folks.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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