I admit I glanced over my shoulder to see if anybody was looking when I walked into Weedology on Thursday. You’d have done the same unless you plan on becoming a regular at Ontario, Oregon’s first recreational marijuana dispensary.

I was there for a couple of reasons, and neither of them was to buy.

First, I was just curious.

Next, Arizona likely will see recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot — if the Legislature doesn’t legalize it first. I wanted to get a whiff of what we might be in for.

I was in Oregon and Idaho last week helping two of our sister papers — it’s my “other” job with our company. I stepped out of my motel room last Sunday and found myself facing a towering Weedology sign. Then I let the stereotypes run rampant for a minute: I pictured a haggard building with chipped paint and mold growing in the walls; a staff of young burnouts and ’60s hippies who spend their paychecks at work; maybe there would be a shady guy working under the dim glow of a single light bulb asking me what I wanted to score.

Am I skeptical about the idea of recreational pot? You bet. History taught me that lesson.

Arizona approved medical marijuana in 2010. The dispensary in Sahuarita has been responsible and transparent. The skepticism came when we learned a handful of Arizona doctors wrote the vast majority of marijuana prescriptions — and that most of them were for males in their 20s diagnosed with “chronic pain.” Sure…

Medical marijuana can help a lot of people — we’ve written about it many times — but it’s still met with occasional eye rolling in a state where voters OK’d it by just 50.1 percent.

What would recreational marijuana bring to our state? We might find out soon.

Proponents want it on the 2020 ballot but state Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants the Legislature to approve it before then. Why? It’s all about control. If the Legislature legalizes recreational marijuana, it’ll be a lot easier to make adjustments if things start going sideways. Rolling back a voter initiative is much more difficult.

I’m going in!

So what did I find at Weedology? Well, no used needles on the ground or bums in the parking lot — and the customers looked fairly normal, too.

Still, I wasn’t comfortable when I walked in. I’ve never smoked a joint, the only weed in my life grows out of the rocks in my front yard, and I once mistook a glass bong for a snow globe. To be sure, this is not my world.

Just inside the front door is what looks like a doctor’s waiting room. A receptionist asked for my driver’s license and registered me, then he gave me a number and I waited until I was called.

The main shop is open, well-lit and clean. Pretty much everything is under glass and out of reach. What didn’t I see? Tie-dyed shirts, a green haze and black-light posters (this is not a head shop). It didn’t even smell weird. They had bongs, but they call them “glass art.” (Uh huh…)

I also learned a new word: budtender. You know, like bartender.

I also learned cannabis comes in lots of shapes, sizes and potencies. You can get creams, rubs, gummies and vape oils — and that barely scratches the surface.

Parting thoughts? I don’t think America needs another vice, but if legalized marijuana is coming, Oregon is doing it right.

But these things come with a lot of unknowns. So while a quick visit dispelled the mystery, it took away none of the skepticism.

—Dan Shearer

Load comments