Who is responsible for my local dispensary not being able to sell me recreational weed? I know it's because of the glacial OLCC permitting process, but who was the genius that set this rolling catastrophe in motion?
Some background: Up until January, Oregon's long-standing cohort of medical marijuana dispensaries also sold recreational weed. This was a stopgap measure to shut you up until we could get the statewide network of properly taxed and permitted recreational pot stores up and running.
Now that practice has ended—only there aren't quite as many up-and-running stores as we'd hoped. They're coming online, but it's taking a while.
Y'know, some people are never happy. For decades, pot advocates promoted state-controlled weed as a great social good: "Just make it legal," they wheedled. "You can tax and permit it up the wazoo, then watch the money roll in for schools and hospitals and re-education camps."
Now that Mary Jane is finally legal, however, everyone seems to have forgotten that we promised to take her ugly sister Bureaucracy to the prom.
Get used to it, bucko. Your weed connection is now in the hands of the same folks who brought you the DMV. (It's an open question whether rebellious teens of the future will think pot is even cool.) But don't feel sorry for yourself; pity your poor neighborhood weed-shop owner.
In my research for this column, I read a number of stories from other outlets about this transition. Not one mentioned the actual fees weed sellers are paying—and it turns out they're taking it right in the 100 percent-organic-hemp cargo shorts.
The state application fee (nonrefundable!) for a retail pot license is $250. If you're approved, the licensing fee is $4,750. Annually. The city of Portland has its own set of fees: Initial application, $975. Annual license, $4,975.
All told, that's almost 11 grand before you've sold your first gluten-free space cake. Applicants could be forgiven for thinking they might have been better off dealing with the cartels.