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Pot sales boom in Ontario, top $100 million – fueled in part by Idaho customers


Idaho News 6

Marijuana sal are booming just across Idaho’s border in Ontario, Oregon. According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Marijuana shops in Ontario exceeded $100 million dollars in sales in a little over a year since they got the go-ahead to open. 

“There’s been an increase in customers and the amount that they are purchasing,” Hot Box Farms owner Steven Meland said. “It has been kind of an interesting dynamic within the market as well as we have seen there be more options for people to go and shop at we have actually still seen our foot traffic increase as well.”

“We had a pretty good year relative to other retailers across the board, and feel really fortunate,” Nuggets CBD owner said Justin Long said.

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Highest per capita sales

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission keeps track of marijuana sales for each county. 

Ontario is the only city in Malheur County to allow marijuana sales, and with six dispensaries operating out of the city, according to the commission, those dispensaries brought in more than $8 million a month during the pandemic. 

That’s $3 million increase compared to this time last year. 

“During the pandemic, we have noticed that people either have a little more extra time or they are consuming a lot more,” Meland said. “Certainly when the stimulus money was dispersed we saw an uptick in people coming to the dispensary and stocking up as they thought that they may close at some point.”

With a population of roughly 31,000, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Malheur County is leading all of Oregon’s counties in sales per capita. 

In November alone, Malheur County’s per capita sales stood at $15.56 per person. The next closest county, Curry, was at $3.56 per person. 

With the local 3% marijuana tax, the dispensaries are also bringing in around $3 million in tax revenue for the city of Ontario. 

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Customers from Idaho

But, with the pandemic and their proximity to Idaho, where marijuana is not legal, Meland said that could be contributing to the increase in sales. 

“We do see people from all over coming in,” he said. “Folks do choose to come over and partake in the legal industry here in Oregon, and as the pandemic has been going it seems more and more folks are taking advantage of our shop being in Ontario.”

While many bars and liquor establishments are closed across Oregon, marijuana dispensaries are open and have social distancing requirements. 

Some are even offering online ordering with drive-through pick-up and few are offering local delivery services.

Lynsey Amundson - Idaho News 6
Lynsey Amundson - Idaho News 6
Lynsey Amundson is a reporter for Idaho News 6

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