Where We Live: Cannabis industry adapts under outbreak

Coronavirus

Oregon's Finest and other retailers are taking orders online, doing deliveries

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With many businesses closed, and thousands of Oregonians out of work, a few industries are actually thriving amid the coronavirus outbreak. Oregon cannabis sales have increased since the coronavirus pandemic began, but it’s not business as usual.

Rita Coleman of Oregon’s Finest. March 2020 (KOIN)

At Oregon’s Finest Cannabis in Northeast Portland, the first thing you notice are the masks—they’re made from t-shirt scraps.

“The idea behind the mask is, of course, they don’t prevent the virus, but they will help us with not touching our face,” explained Rita Coleman of Oregon’s Finest Cannabis.

Staff are also wearing gloves, sanitizing constantly, and practicing social distancing. But it’s not driving any business away.

“We did expect to slow down, but we actually have had quite the increase,” said Coleman, also known as “Sativa Rita. “Our business has increased 20-30%.”

“Also, people are probably stocking up,” said Coleman. “They need, you know, they need their medicine.”

One can argue whether recreational marijuana is an “essential service.” What you can’t argue is that cannabis has become a significant part of Oregon’s economy. Cannabis products are taxed at 17% by the state, and 3% by local governments. In 2019, tax revenue to Oregon from recreational marijuana topped $102 million, rising significantly from the first full fiscal year of recreational marijuana sales in the fiscal year 2017.

Rita Coleman stands behind the retail counter at Oregon’s Finest cannabis dispensary in Northeast Portland. March 2020 (KOIN)

In all, the state has collected nearly $300 million in taxes since recreational marijuana became legal in the summer of 2015.

“It has evolved and it’s become really normalized,” said Coleman. “It’s pretty regular for folks to just come in and shop like they would at any retail shop.”

Jars of cannabis sit on a shelf at Oregon’s Finest in Northeast Portland. March 2020 (KOIN)

Oregon’s Finest and other retailers are taking orders online now and doing deliveries. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has also relaxed rules to allow for curbside pick-up. It’s a new way of doing business during the pandemic in an industry that’s established deep roots—and flowers—in Oregon.

The Oregon’s Finest location in the Pearl District was the first state-licensed recreational dispensary in Oregon. Now, there are hundreds of dispensaries in the state, totaling more locations than Starbucks or McDonald’s.

Follow KOIN 6 for the latest news and weather

App

Download our FREE news and weather apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for our email newsletters.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Coronavirus Podcasts

More Coronavirus Podcast

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss