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New marijuana stores signal that the Ontario cannabis economy is still going strong

The city is already home to eight marijuana dispensaries and nine more are being planned. Industry insiders say the market remains vibrant three years after the city’s voters lifted the ban on marijuana sales.

Jared Williams, general manager of Elevation 2150, an Ontario pharmacy, shows one of the products his company offers. (The company / PAT CALDWELL)

ONTARIO – Ontario marijuana retail is booming.

Three years after Ontario voters lifted a ban on marijuana sales, the industry continues to grow, adding jobs and revenue to the city’s coffers.

“There’s still a lot of room for growth,” said Steve Meland, co-owner of Hotbox Farms, Ontario marijuana dispensary. His company was one of the first to open in the city.

Ontario is now home to eight marijuana dispensaries, and the city has  -proved the construction of nine more.

The city’s newest pharmacy, Elevation 2150, on Southwest 4th Avenue, opened in  -ril, and another marijuana retail store, ID Holdings, is slated to open soon. ID Holdings at 1200 SE 1st St. is 1,831 square feet and  -proximately 20% complete, according to Dan Cummings, director of community development for Ontario.

ID Holdings will be the 13th marijuana facility to open in Ontario.

At first glance, 15 marijuana outlets serving 11,000 people – the population of Ontario – may seem like one oversaturated market, but that’s not the case, Meland said.

“Hotbox was able to maintain and expand its position in the market. I think we will still see significant growth, ”he said.

Hotbox, according to Meland, is also expanding into Ontario.

“We have four other locations in different stages of development,” he said.

Meland said there “won’t necessarily be five hotbox stores”.

“We’ll own them, but we’ll market them differently,” he said.

Meland said his company’s goal is to offer its product in a different and “unique way”.

Meland said the hotbox path will revolve around the small but important elements of the business.

For example, he said, marijuana is grown and processed at a new, planned Hotbox location near the Ontario Municipal Airport.

“So more of a farm-to-consumer operation that gives the consumer a lot of insight into how things are grown,” he said.

Another suggested location – behind Weedology, at 591 E. Idaho Ave. – Will offer grocery-style marketing, he said.

“It is now more of a consumer information than a deli format where we have large cannabis jars and when a consumer orders we take one of the large jars and weigh the desired amount,” said Meland.

He said the key for marijuana retailers is to offer a variety of products and services.

“Every time you can offer a service in a unique way, you can work a bit for yourself,” said Meland.

Elevation 2150 general manager Jared William said business was good in business.

“Things are gradually increasing from week to week. The monthly numbers definitely add up to get where we want, ”said Williams.

He said the online sales of Elevation 2150’s business are also strong. He said the shop’s customer service and product selection make a difference in terms of profitability.

“Especially as a new store, a lot of people are surprised by our selection. We have one of the bigger menus in town. We have new customers every week and every month, ”he said.

Williams said Elevation 2150 wanted to get involved in the community going forward.

“We’re not just there to get stoned, we’re here to help people,” he said.

Williams said while some marijuana products are the same at every pharmacy, every store has “its own little niche”.

“We all have different brands,” he says.

Williams said Elevation 2150 isn’t just selling marijuana leaves for consumption.

“A lot of people don’t understand the wellness products associated with them,” he said.

Williams said Elevation 2150 offers cannabis-based topical products, tinctures – marijuana herbal extracts – along with cannabis-based edible foods.

Meland said Ontario’s location on the edge of the greater Boise area, home to more than 700,000 people, is fueling the industry.

“We look at the economy and demogr -hics of a region and there are an incredible number of people within 50 to 100 miles of us,” said Meland.

The boom in marijuana dispensaries also helped the city in terms of tax revenue.

Adam Brown, Ontario city manager, said the city raised $ 1.82 million in marijuana tax revenue in fiscal year 2019-2020.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year ending June 30, the city raised $ 3.01 million.

In 2020, Malheur County’s retail marijuana sales topped $ 90 million and became the cannabis per c -ita sales leader for the year, according to the Oregon Business Journal.

For example, in January 2021, Ontario had sales of $ 9.5 million. The city levies a 3% sales tax on this income and the state levies a 17% tax. The state then assigns a certain percentage – 10% – to cities based on a city’s population, not the amount of marijuana sold.

Brown said the city spent marijuana tax revenues on things like road projects, playground improvements, signposts, and paid more than $ 2 million in public pension debt in Ontario.

Marijuana funds were also used to renovate the bathrooms at Beck Kiwanis Park and install fences at the Ontario Municipal Airport.

“There is no doubt that the city has benefited financially from its presence (pharmacies),” Brown said.

Brown said the city failed to use marijuana tax revenue to hire new employees.

“We don’t know the durability of marijuana money. There is no guarantee how many years it will be, ”said Brown.

That’s because the local market could go into freefall if Idaho changes its law to allow retail marijuana sales.

However, Meland believes the future is bright for the local marijuana retail industry.

“I think the trend will continue as cannabis becomes more mainstream,” Meland said.

News tip? Contact Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous reporting:

Ontario’s first marijuana store opens this week

Ontario is funding lobbyists to ask for more cannabis taxes

New petition aims to enable cannabis production in Malheur County

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