180819-nrr-canibus

Alexa Arnett of La Mota completes a transaction on Friday at the store located at 644 SE Cass in Roseburg.

When selling recreational marijuana was first legalized in Oregon in 2016, growers raced to get their licenses and farms ready. Prices were high and getting higher as dispensaries popped up in every county and consumers started buying on the open market. Since the beginning of this year, prices have continually dropped with only occasional spikes, so the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the regulating agency for recreational marijuana sales, is working to control the market.

Veronica Leon, manager at La Mota in Roseburg, said she’s seen prices as low as $800 per pound since the beginning of this year.

“We love it,” Leon said. “We’re getting so much more business, it’s just making a bigger selection and making it to where there’s enough for everybody. Why would you have such high prices if there’s so much for everybody?”

Leon said they’ve been able to bring their prices from $15 per gram down to $2 for some grams, and it makes cannabis more accessible for everyone, including for medicinal purposes.

“It shouldn’t be a struggle; it should be a community thing, very accessible,” Leon said. “The outcome should be where there’s money and taxes going to the community all the way. Harvest is coming up, and we’re getting all these cheap prices. Usually, this is the time of the year when we’re dry, like we have nothing but $15 grams.”

Eric Hayes, a vendor from Pistil Point Cannabis, one of the largest producers in Oregon, said the low prices hurt everyone else in the industry.

“They didn’t limit the amount of suppliers in Oregon, so there was an unlimited amount of producers that were producing flower,” Hayes said. “Economics dictates that if you oversupply the market, price is going to go down. We oversupplied our market and have affected the prices for every single producer in the state.”

Last year, Hayes saw prices regularly in the $1,000 to $3,000 range per pound, but this year has seen a pound go for as little as $250.

“It affects our bottom line. Our margins are thinner. You’ve got to make do and be more efficient. Really, it affects how many people we can hire to do support.”

The OLCC took the first step to limit suppliers in May by putting an indefinite hold on applications for licenses to grow until they finish processing the existing applications and sort out what to do about the over-abundance. When they made the announcement, they had already issued almost 2,000 permits. In July, they announced they would require all growers to notify the commission before harvesting and approving a rule to allow the agency to revoke permits for any permit holder who is deliberately selling to minors.

In response to the limit on permits, Leon said dispensaries and producers are partnering up to control the price to benefit all parties.

“That’s exactly what La Mota is doing,” Leon said. “They partnered with two producers. That might change the outcome of how much stuff is being produced.”

Leon said there will “never” be enough flower produced, and the market is only growing and garnering interest, but Hayes disagreed.

“People have gotten used to buying in dispensaries, so demand in dispensaries has gone up,” Hayes said. “Overall demand in the state of Oregon, the only thing that’s changed is pot tourism. People were smoking back when it was illegal. It’s not like they just changed just because it became legal.”

In the last year, there was a million pounds of usable but unsold marijuana, according to the state tracking system, which is more than three times what was sold.

“Once you see people failing, supply will go down and prices will go up,” Hayes said. “It’s just become more and more competitive.”

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Business reporter

Janelle Polcyn is the business reporter at the News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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