What a difference 12 hours makes. Steve Geiger, proprietor of Highway 420 in Seaside, saw angst turned into a happy ending. After a four-year quest, he received approval from the city of Seaside to sell recreational marijuana under terms regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Twelve hours before, his business future seemed anything but clear. Seaside still hadn’t weighed in on a state bill allowing medical dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis, and with an Oct. 1 date looming, the clock was ticking. He feared a new moratorium, a second vote or further delay.
“I’ve made several attempts to get information, to find out what’s going on,” Geiger said Monday morning. “I will just say this to you — I’m in a very tenuous position right now.”
Everything changed with a letter from Seaside Planning Director Kevin Cupples granting “the temporary sale of limited marijuana retail products from licensed medical marijuana facilities.”
“I feel elated and great — like we might be able to make it after all,” Geiger said. “They concluded what I asserted, that this early sales program works with the city’s ordinance.”
Geiger, 55, moved to the area in 2012 with his wife, Evee. Their South Roosevelt Drive location met medical marijuana dispensary criteria and the couple applied for that status in 2013.
When the city issued a moratorium on licensing medical marijuana dispensaries, the Geigers plans were stalled. The moratorium expired in June 2015 and in July, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill into law allowing existing dispensaries to sell marijuana to all adults beginning Oct. 1.
Without word from the city, he feared further delay, a new moratorium or a second referendum.
For the Geigers, the letter from Cupples changed everything. “We have concluded that unless Seaside adopts an ordinance prohibiting the activity, a licensed dispensary can operate in accordance within the provisions established by the state,” the planner wrote.
State rules haven’t been put in place, Cupples added, and won’t be completed until later this week. “None of us know what those rules are until they are put out by the state.”
As far as future recreational sales, “the City Council has not taken a formal position at this point in time.”
Cupples wrote that “any direction from the council” will be after an opportunity to review the OLCC rules.
Geiger will now file paperwork with the Oregon Health Authority. Then, on Oct. 1, he can open his doors. “It’s been an extremely long process,” he said. “It’s been very gratifying though. I can’t tell you what it’s like, man, it’s so great to come so far. It’s nice to finally after these few years to get some respect, some acceptance and a little bit of gratitude.”