Business was booming on opening day for Umatilla County’s first legal marijuana store.
Kind Leaf officially opened its doors in Pendleton on Saturday, and after lunch people were bunched up just inside the front doors, trying to avoid the rain outside as the line to show identification grew longer.
Erin Purchase, who was checking driver’s licenses, said as of 1 p.m. she had 94 customers visit the store. Some were already lined up when staff opened at 8 a.m.
“It’s really great,” she said. “We’re really excited to have this opportunity to serve Pendleton with legal medical and recreational marijuana.”
After showing their identification and signing in, customers briefly sat on couches, surrounded by mellow instrumental music and the sound of a running fountain, until it was their turn to pass through the doors to where the product was kept.
Inside, a wide, well-lit room featured long wooden counters where customers could browse and ask questions about the different strains featured behind the counters. Signs on the wall warned customers to remember to keep their purchases out of reach of children and not to smoke in public.
Brandon Krenzler, one of the dispensary’s co-owners, said the first day had been a “beautiful experience.”
“We’ve had a lot of happy people,” he said.
So many happy people, in fact, that the ATM at the business had run out of cash. For now, federal laws against marijuana have forced dispensaries to run on a cash-only basis.
Krenzler said the dispensary was offering people a “craft cannabis experience” that was more tasteful and refined than the flashy green-light dispensaries one might see in parts of Portland.
One of his customers interrupted to shake his hand and thank him for giving Pendleton its first opportunity to purchase legal marijuana. Some customers were experienced buyers, others needed help picking out a strain that would provide the experience they were looking for. The customers ranged from the group of men in their twenties who exchanged high fives and enthusiastically congratulated departing customers, to a woman who asked if the dispensary gave senior citizen discounts (they do).
Some slipped quietly out of the store, refusing to discuss their experience with the newspaper, while others felt comfortable enough to talk about what is now a legal purchase.
Seth Hiatt said he thought the store was “nice, clean and organized” and he would return.
“It’s nice to have something local,” he said.
Sandra Doherty said she didn’t know much about marijuana, but the staff were knowledgeable and patient in answering her questions.
“I’m really surprised Pendleton allowed it, but I think the tax money will be awesome,” she said.
She said she hoped the taxes on the sales going on inside would be used for improving schools and roads in Pendleton.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.