Oregon town's pot shops seeing influx of Idaho customers

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 6, 2017 at 1:10 p.m.

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho residents are helping to boost the economy of a small Oregon town by purchasing marijuana from the town's two dispensaries, which lie along the border between the two states.

Huntington, Oregon, has 435 residents, but the city's pot shops can serve up to 600 customers on a busy day, with most coming from out of town, The Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/2meGwdw).

"When (the dispensaries) are really busy, it's two, two-and-a-half hours before (customers) get their product. So they mingle and they go to the store. They sit and have a hamburger or something," said Huntington Councilman Chuck Guerri. "Every little bit of it helps when you're a small town."

A good chunk of the businesses' customers come from Idaho's Treasure Valley, which has a population of more than 600,000. Officials say Idaho residents are taking advantage of the short trip across the Snake River into Oregon, which legalized the recreational use of pot in 2014.

Huntington expects to receive $100,000 in taxes from just one of its pot shops this year, which is half the city's annual $200,000 budget. Huntington will also get money from the state.

Oregon allocates 10 percent of the money it takes in from a 17 percent tax on marijuana sales to law enforcement initiatives in cities and counties, Department of Revenue spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk said.

While the business may be good for Oregon, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has been a strong critic of legalizing marijuana in his state.

In conservative Idaho, efforts to put a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot failed last year and two years before that. The only exception is a similar supervised use of cannabidiol oil to treat seizure disorders in up to 25 children, which Otter signed as an executive order in 2015.

Idaho State Police Maj. Sheldon Kelley says troopers have been dealing with an increasing amount of marijuana entering Idaho since Oregon and neighboring states legalized the drug, some of which is likely to have come from Huntington.

"It's not a new phenomenon," Kelley said. "You've had medical marijuana available in Oregon, in several other states in the Northwest and the West. All that made an increase in activity here in Idaho."


Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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