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Marijuana dispensaries don't flood Beaverton

Blooming Deals opens near 158th Avenue with an eye toward future retail sales


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tyler (left) and Ryan Walker, along with other relatives, opened one of Beaverton's first medical marijuana dispensaries, Blooming Deals, in late April.A curious thing happened on the way to Beaverton becoming the next frontier for marijuana sales: So far, the land rush for the city’s limited spots just hasn’t materialized.

As of last week, only two dispensaries have opened inside the city limits and Beaverton had received no additional applications. Neither of the new dispensaries is in the city’s commercial core.

Maja K. Haium, the assistant city attorney who shepherded the legal issue for Beaverton, said she continues to get interest but has been surprised at the relative lack of applications. The lack of interest is especially unexpected since the city has limited spots for the businesses under its zoning code requirements and state regulations that prohibit marijuana sales within 1,000 feet of schools or other marijuana businesses.

Once those spots — estimated at about 10, depending on their exact locations — are gone, it will be difficult for future marijuana businesses to get in, including retail shops which can open next year, Haium said.TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Shaina Lewis, a budtender, carefully measures product at Blooming Deals.

The lack of competition is refreshing to Tyler Walker, co-owner of Blooming Deals, one of the city’s first dispensaries; Walker previously was a partner at a dispensary in Portland, where nearly half of the state’s marijuana dispensaries are located.

“We’re doing everything we can to expand. If you’re not moving fast, you just get left behind,” said Walker, who acknowledged that he is interested in transitioning to retail sales when permitted. “In five years, it’s going to be pretty much impossible to obtain a license.”

The first Beaverton shop to open, Stone Age Pharmacy, is a stand-alone building along Southwest Canyon Road. Stone Age sits on a sliver of incorporated territory in West Slope, farther from the city center than other marijuana dispensaries which already had opened in unincorporated Washington County. It advertises itself as being minutes from downtown Portland.

Blooming Deals opened next in a small strip mall a block off Northwest 158th Avenue, just west of Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District’s Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Complex.

Walker, who owns the shop with twin brother Ryan, his parents and a cousin, offered a tour of the tidy dispensary shortly after opening two weeks ago.

“It’s just another business,” he said. “We’re no different from a liquor store. We’re no different from a pharmacy.”

Currently, they were still building up to a full 30 strains of Indica, Sativa and hybrid marijuana buds in containers set on three rows of cabinets at the dispensary, a storefront that most recently served as extra dining space for the Thai restaurant next door.

“It’s exactly like wine,” Walker said, describing various strains and their attributes. “They all have a different smell. They all have a different taste.”

Like expensive wine, Blooming Deals’ “top shelf” strains sell for $10 per gram to $200 per ounce.

All his customers must have Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cards, issued with a doctor’s prescription for a variety of ailments. Some patients are combatting various types of pain, while others have problems with insomnia, Walker said.

The family also takes part in a cooperative warehouse grow operation in the Portland area, where they produce the majority of their own strains and also sell to other dispensaries.

Their own store also sells a variety of other marijuana products, including edibles, extracts, concentrates, skin patches, pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes and more, some produced in-house and others from suppliers.

“Everything that leaves here has to be in child-proof packaging,” he said. “Believe me, the last thing I want is for anybody to be hurt by anything, but there’s plenty out there that can do that. It won’t be from us.”

The Blooming Deals interior is clean and well-lit, and much of the cabinetry is clean-lined wood furniture with a burned-in motif the brothers made themselves.

“We used to flip homes before we got into this,” Tyler Walker said.

“We were doing well for six or seven years, then 2008 happened,” said Ryan Walker, who splits time between Oregon and Arizona.

Tyler Walker said the city of Beaverton has been more helpful than some jurisdictions as Blooming Deals went through the licensing process, and the city even helped expedite a last-minute oversight when he inadvertently opened without a city licenses.

“They saw where this (medical marijuana sales) was going and worked with it,” said Walker, a Happy Valley resident who also is pursuing dispensary licenses elsewhere, including Gresham and a couple Oregon coastal towns.

Walker said zoning requirements make finding suitable sites difficult, but even harder is finding a landlord who will permit marijuana sales.

“I probably made thousands of phone calls all over Oregon trying to make some kind of lease. That’s the biggest challenge,” he said. “It’s just been more work than you can even imagine to open a dispensary.”

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