Since voters overturned the city of Ontario’s ban on recreational marijuana dispensaries in 2018, and the first one opened its doors in June of 2019, a total of seven dispensaries have established, two are on the way and there will be limits on how many more can open after that.
The most recent dispensary to get the required licenses from both the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the city is The Bud House on the corner of Northeast Second Street and Northeast First Avenue.
Once a dispensary opens in an area that meets all required 1,000 foot buffers from school’s and other dispensaries, it limits the area in which another dispensary can open within the city limits, which includes Ontario’s urban growth area.
Dan Cummings, director of Ontario Community Development, has previously referred to the buffer zones as “moving targets” because trying to determine what impact these buffers will have on the surrounding businesses is difficult to determine. If a school moves to another location, the 1,000-foot buffer zone with all of its regulations moves with it.
As such, the opportunity for more dispensaries to open is limited, and with current permits and applications, new shops are limited to the western portion of the city.
Cummings issued The Bud House its license on Thursday, he said during a phone interview on Friday. The dispensary had already received its state license prior to that, according to Cummings. However, due to cabinet work still being unfinished in the sales area, the dispensary only has a temporary certificate of occupancy, which limits sales to being done online or at the drive up, according to Cummings.
“There is a drive up and office or receiving area [inside], for people to pick up, [too],” he said. “So they are technically open, but not fully open.”
Cummings said the owners of The Bud House are one in the same as Weedology, the first retailer to have two dispensaries in Ontario.
However, another retailer, Hotbox Farms, is aiming to open a second recreational marijuana dispensary, too.
Initially, owners had sought a location in Canyon Village and even offered to relocate a school for pre-kindergarten students nearby. Later, after it was found out the school did not meet the state’s definition as a K-12 school (thereby not having a buffer). However, according to Cummings, Hotbox owners ended up purchasing property from Dan Jones, which is across the street from Hunt’s Auto Sales on Highway 201 (Southwest 30th), so did not decide to take the Canyon Village location.
However, someone else has, according to Cummings, who said work is being done there to remodel an existing building for a dispensary.
After that, numbers of new dispensaries is limited to a few.
“There will be two and possibly way down the road, three more,” Cummings said. “There is a spot further down on the highway, but there is no water there yet.”
It’s too costly for the city to put the water in, and there was a decision made early on after voters had overturned the city’s ban, that the city would not do deferred agreements for anybody in the marijuana industry. In other words, they wouldn’t build the infrastructure for the development of a dispensary even if they would be paid back later. The thought behind that, Cummings said, when it comes to revenues tied to marijuana, those businesses have enough money to build the infrastructure themselves.
That area that remains now is in the urban growth boundary, which he defined as “anything on the west side of Highway 201,” emphasizing new dispensaries would still have to meet required buffers. Dispensaries are not allowed in the industrial zone, on the east side of the highway.