American entrepreneurs have been developing creative ways to avoid as much human contact as possible during the cannabis transaction. Telehealth evaluations, delivery apps and now drive-thrus are quickly becoming a reality. Drive-thru dispensaries have popped up wherever possible — as seen in Detroit’s unregulated medical cannabis market as well as several locations in the Northwest. Gold Coast-based collective Green Life Oregon is planning on opening the nation’s first recreational cannabis drive-up window.
Julie Schmelzer is economic development director for Curry County. “I’ve seen the business plan, I’ve met the investors, and I believe this venture is going to be quite an asset to the area,” Schmelzer told the Curry Pilot. “Their plans for expansion and other amenities can help Gold Beach and the southwestern coast become a destination for those interested in the new green tourism we are fortunate to be a part of.”
Gold Beach, Oregon, is located minutes from the California border. Oregon voters approved Measure 91 in 2014. Recreational cannabis went on sale to adults 21 and over in October in the state of Oregon.
Green Life’s manager Jeremy Paulson strategically chose a location across the street from the Curry General Hospital. “We want to make sure people have the opportunity for natural alternatives to pain medicine, as well as offer a product the voters of Oregon support,” he said. “We also are firm believers that a reliable dispensary can help keep black market marijuana off the streets, thereby reducing crime.”
Other areas like Detroit’s 8 mile see cannabis drive-thru as a threat. Detroit’s mayor Mike Duggan chose 9/11 as the day to address the epidemic of drive-thru spreading throughout the city.
“We need to get an ordinance passed, because right now we have no ability to enforce anything,” Duggan warned, after a memorial service commemorating Sept. 11. “I think we need to eliminate the drive-thru aspect, which has now been added to some of these facilities.”
On Oct. 13, 2015, the Detroit City Council issued emergency regulations to curb drive-thru and 24-hour cannabis collectives.
Every year Paulson sets the store’s lights to flash at 4:20 p.m. sharp. What better day is there to christen the nation’s first recreational drive-thru than on our most hallowed holiday?
The OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) is the managing entity behind Oregon’s recreational stores. According to the OLCC’s list of FAQ’s, drive-thru are prohibited by statute. The state imposed a 25 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis, but the current tax will be replaced by a 17 percent state tax later this year. The OLCC assumes control over recreational stores once the 17 percent sales tax goes into effect.
Nearby in Olympia, Washington, lies a medical cannabis dispensary that opened a drive-thru some four years ago. Sarena Haskins, manager of Sonshine Organics says she opens the drive-thru on weekends for convenience.
The potential is definitely there. According to the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, collectives sold $10.8 million in cannabis during the first six days of recreational cannabis. With these numbers, 2016 could easily surpass the 2015 fiscal year.
“Economics don’t lie — there is green in the new green,” Schmelzer said. “They have big plans for the area, and I’m anxious for the community to capitalize on what these guys can bring to Gold Beach.”
Are drive-thru dispensaries here to stay?