Like it or not, weed is coming to Central Oregon.
In last week’s issue, Associate Editor Erin Rook wrote a far-reaching feature about how the legalization of recreational marijuana is presenting changes and challenges to Central Oregon. He wrote about the potential tax windfalls (which the City of Bend failed to capitalize on), and on the challenges for law enforcement.
If the lessons in Colorado and Washington are any indication, this promises to be a major change in Central Oregon—and we are utterly fascinated by how all of this will unfold, so much so that, starting this issue, we are dedicating a new column, “Smoke Signals,” to the topic, or really topics.
To be clear, the column is not about reviewing different strains of bud (like Kevin Gifford’s Microreview section does each week in our newspaper for the local beer industry). No, instead, this is a column that will examine the banking, cultural, business, social and legal issues.
It is also not a coincidence that we launch this new column in “The State of the Market” issue: What the “weed industry” might mean to Central Oregon’s economy is no small matter. It is estimated that the agriculture demands for marijuana may be as big as the demands for apples, and there will be storefronts and new business owners. And, as Colorado has already experienced, marijuana, like beer and skiing, can be part of destination tourism.
We look forward to share with you our research, thoughts and meditations on what the legalization of recreational marijuana means to Central Oregon.