Notes From Oregon’s First Day Of Legal Cannabis Sales

By Sue Vorenberg

OREGON:  There was a prevalent party vibe in Portland, Oregon on Oct. 1, 2015 – the first day of legal recreational cannabis sales in the state.

Having covered the launch and evolution of Washington’s recreational cannabis system over the past several years, I was extremely curious to see how Oregon’s first day of sales played out. (I’m in Vancouver, Washington and Portland is literally a 15 minute drive from my house – so I know the city reasonably well).

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First, some kudos – Instead of grudgingly accepting the market (as we’ve seen in some Washington cities and I’m sure in some of Oregon’s more rural towns as well), Portland and its residents seem to openly and lovingly welcome it.

I’m sure there are residents who strongly oppose rec sales – but biking through the city for the launch of the Portland Pot Pedal Bike Tour I found a lot of enthusiasm, curiosity and support from the people I met (we went to a few eateries along with the head shops and dispensaries where you’d expect that sort of response).

During our ride – and our guides were wearing shirts with pot leaves on them – people on the street waved, asked about the tour and cheered us on. And I think with that sort of public attitude Portland is well set to become one of the best marijuana tourism destinations.

The pot shops (which are medical dispensaries that are now allowed to sell up to a quarter ounce of flower as Oregonians wait for their full recreational system to be set up in 2016) don’t work quite the same in Oregon as they do in Washington.

“Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom”

COLORADO: A year after Colorado passed one of the most permissive pot laws in the world, CNBC and correspondent Harry Smith return to the state to chart the rise of a new American industry and report on the results of this unprecedented social experiment.  Smith profiles the most successful marijuana merchant in Denver, who hopes to expand his family-run business to other states as they follow Colorado’s lead and legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use.  He explores the new world of cannabis-infused edibles and the sale of pot brownies, chocolates and even soda, which has led to some confusion and controversy over dosing and portion size.  CNBC cameras also follow two pot dealers – one of them a U.S. Army veteran – who profit from a black market that funnels the drug across state lines and continues to thrive despite the new law.

This CNBC original documentary examines the issue of pot in the workplace, as Colorado employers work to reconcile a more open marijuana culture with workplace rules that enforce zero tolerance.  Harry Smith talks to Brandon Coats, who awaits a State Supreme Court ruling that could ripple across the country.  Coats was fired from his job when he tested positive for THC – the result of an act that was legal according to the state.   Smith also reports on the plight of medical refugees, a fellowship of hundreds of families that have moved to Colorado to obtain medicinal marijuana they can’t get in their home states.  Confronting a landscape of unprecedented business opportunities and unintended consequences, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper tells CNBC, “When you’re doing this for the first time, there’s no template.”