Editorial: A marijuana message

Representatives of Oregon's still-evolving marijuana industry will gather in Ashland next month for the fourth annual Oregon Marijuana Business Conference to network and discuss what's new. Keynote speaker Henry Rollins told the Daily Tidings he wants to focus on something old in the business world: community service. Attendees would be advised to listen closely.

Three years in, Oregon's recreational marijuana industry is still experiencing growing pains. Conflicts over rural land uses and apprehension over the federal government's scrutiny of the black market are resulting in stresses as growers and retailers try to establish themselves as legitimate business operators.

Some good news came last week when the state distributed payments from the tax on recreational sales — $85 million in all, divided among schools, law enforcement, public health and local governments.

A new challenge for existing operations is out-of-state companies with plenty of financial backing trying to gain a foothold after the Oregon Liquor Control Commission lifted the requirement that marijuana business owners had to live in Oregon for two years before obtaining a state license.

Rollins says his message to pot entrepreneurs will be to become part of the communities they serve and give back as responsible corporate citizens. "That's the only way to keep the big boys from taking your lunch," he said.

Not only will it help with the competition, but many Oregonians are still uncomfortable with the idea of legal marijuana. Seeing cannabis retailers as ordinary business people will go a long way toward easing those fears.

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