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Dispensaries Prepare for New Rules

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PHOENIX, Ore. – Two employees train at the greenery in downtown Phoenix, going over each item to understand their properties and medicinal value. They hope to join a new wave of “budtenders” soon to spring up across the state.

“The person behind the counter is absolutely the face of this industry, and is the most important patient contact point here,” said Andrea Adams, Executive Director of The Greenery.

The Greenery is one of 200 or so facilities in Oregon already offering a limited scope of services to patients.

The transition to dispensary means going from what amounts to a legal tightrope to something fully endorsed by state law.

“We’re probably at an 80/20 right now,” said Inventory Manager Christine Totten. “Eighty percent working towards being able to protect what we’re doing, and 20% actually doing it.”

That compliance work consists of about 30-pages worth of rules and regulations — from secured, fireproof storage; to labelling; to tracking every single exchange of marijuana. But employees at The Greenery say nothing is more strenuous, or more unknown, than the testing.

In order to offer marijuana, dispensaries will have to test for pesticides, mold and mildew. They’ll have to measure tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) levels for potency.

All of that is beyond their capabilities and those of most facilities.

“The testing piece is difficult because there isn’t a lot of access to testing right now,” said Adams. “So we don’t even know what kind of financial impact that will have.”

Between testing, training, tracking software, and physical improvements, they say the investment could range from a few thousand dollars to well over $10,000.

They say all that will result in a very unique form of business.

“It’s like trying to combine a doctor’s office with your restaurant specials for the night,” said Adams. “And then putting all of that into a healthcare, compassion-based, professional setting.”