The Big, Sweaty Failure of Corporate Weed in Oregon

This is a lousy time to sell cannabis in a state where everybody and their mom wants to sell cannabis.

Chalice Brands company van. (Blake Benard)

This week’s cover story is “Get Some Class” by Rachel Pinsky, and it’s a really awesome celebration of learning—for all ages. As a parent, I can attest, it is giving a salve to the grotesque truths of the back to school season commencing (if you know you know). Respect and flowers to Rachel, this piece is really fun and legit brilliant, but today we’re skipping school.

Because, A: it’s still summer, Mom, and B: Sophie Peel’s reporting this week on the downward spiral of publicly traded Chalice Brands was too relevant to my interests to merely summarize in the news brief segment.

Oregon’s relationship with cannabis is really singular. Yeah, we’re part of this West Coast weed concern, but we’re also not because Oregon decriminalized cannabis in the ’70s. So, our relationship with weed is different—in fact, until pretty recently our industry had very low barriers to entry. It did not cost a million dollars to jump on this train. In fact, you could argue pretty straightforwardly that compared to other markets, at its inception it was relatively easy to get started in Oregon’s recreational cannabis industry. And so lots of small cottage brands did, and that was our vibe.

So is it any wonder that when out-of-towners with big-business ideals came through to, metaphorically, poach our fruit, the result was a big, sweaty failure?

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