BEND, Ore. – In the past six months, the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon has dropped from 424 to just 65.
Most shops are moving away from selling just medical cannabis, and toward a recreational and medical marijuana combination.
According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, there are now 417 licensed recreational marijuana shops in Oregon.
As the number of those stores increases, the decreasing number of medical dispensaries has some medical patients concerned.
Some people say it’s the greater profit margin that has medical marijuana sellers turning to recreational sales.
But the manager at Bloom Well in Bend, Melissa Johnson, said Thursday they just want to be able to serve as many people as they can.
“We feel that as a community agency, we’re here to provide safe access to cannabis in a judgment-free environment,” Johnson said.
“We serve all customers, from the medical community to the athletic community to people who just want to use cannabis, because it’s a plant that makes them feel good.”
Bloom Well is one of the hundreds of medical marijuana shops across Oregon that applied through the OLCC for a permit to sell recreational marijuana.
It’s a trend, that, according to Jonathan Modie of the Oregon Health Authority, is likely to continue.
“I think the expectation is that the number of dispensaries in Oregon selling medical marijuana will continue to drop,” he said. “Exactly where that will stop, level off, or if we will eventually get to zero, it’s hard to speculate.”
But both he and Johnson said they recognize the fact that the industry is still in a transition period, and not everyone will be pleased with the direction it’s moving.
Johnson said, “With any change comes discomfort, and it’s just a different environment. Every store is busy. Perhaps some patients didn’t enjoy how busy each store got with legalization.”
Modie added, “We have heard concerns from patients that they have few dedicated medical marijuana dispensaries where they can purchase their product.”
Despite the concerns, the Oregon Health Authority official said the medical marijuana program is still up and running, and medical marijuana users are still able to access their medication across the state.