PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Hundreds of business owners will now be navigating the difficult process of figuring out how to rebuild after Oregon’s historic wildfires, but rebuilding will be far more difficult for the marijuana industry.
According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, seven cannabis businesses have reported a total loss from the fires. The OLCC sent out a survey to businesses last week, but say many business owners still have not been able to assess their damage.
One of the businesses that lost everything is Canyon Cannabis in Gates. Co-owner Thorin Thacker says he was told it only took 15 minutes for his business to burn to the ground.
There is nothing left of Canyon Cannabis in Gates. The owner says he plans to rebuild, but it will be a difficult process. Because it is a marijuana business, their products could not be insured and they do not qualify for federal assistance. @fox12oregon pic.twitter.com/ImYXQuMfFj
— Drew Reeves (@DrewReevesTV) September 23, 2020
“Seeing it like this is just so heartbreaking,” Thacker said, looking at the rubble.
Thacker had served as Mill City’s mayor before joining his business partner and opening a marijuana shop in Gates.
“This place was full of color,” Thacker said. “And there was always an album playing. The only way we got to listen to music was on vinyl. A buddy of mine’s wife says, ‘oh, so you sell grass out of your record store because it felt like a dispensary you might find in the 70s.'”
But now, there is nothing. And many of these business owners will be trying to figure out where to go from here, largely on their own.
“The nature of the business that we’re in doesn’t even allow us to insure our inventory,” Thacker said.
Marijuana businesses are also not eligible for federal aid that is provided to small business owners.
“When FEMA comes down and has a bunch of assisted loans and tax dollars that can come and help small businesses rebuild, because we’re a cannabis industry, it does not allow us to participate in any of that money,” Thacker said.
The OLCC says it can provide some assistance, but nothing financially.
“Where the OLCC can help, however, is in kind of reestablishing their operational abilit,y to get them up and running, to make sure they’re compliant, maybe to do a change of location for their business,” said Mark Pettinger, a spokesman for OLCC’s recreational marijuana program.
Thacker says after these fires, he hopes that laws around the marijuana industry will change.
“It’s not fair that we should, and again, I’m glad to pay the taxes, but it’s not fair that we should pay as much as we do in taxes,” Thacker said. “We just don’t get to participate in any of the benefits from all of the revenue we put into that.”
But when he speaks about his business, Thacker doesn’t get choked up about the loss of revenue or the thought of rebuilding. It’s his regulars that made his little shop a home.
“This community lost a lot and we’re going to miss all of our customers so much,” Thacker said. “But we’ll come back. We’ll come back.”
Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.