Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Health dept stats track medical marijuana dollars

July 25, 2012

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Photos from an Oregonian slideshow by Beth Nakamura that details how the state's marijuana business is booming,

Oregon’s medicinal marijuana business is booming, according to an Oregonian story by Noelle Crombie. She writes that the state now has about 35,500 sites growing marijuana. She says large operations “have the potential to churn out hundreds of pounds of marijuana worth $1,500 to $5,000 a pound on the street.”

“Marijuana businesses in Oregon are in a decidedly gray area of the law. They aren’t regulated. There’s no clear sense of how many dispensaries exist,” Noelle says. “However, marijuana has become a Main Street industry in Oregon, where more than 55,000 people hold patient cards.”

Noelle’s story profiles James Bowman, a grower who wants his operation to become a business so he can take a salary and pay his workers in cash instead of marijuana. Because of her previous coverage of medical marijuana, she says Bowman agreed to talk with her. That’s a rarity because the marijuana business is risky, and many owners aren’t interested in talking about it, she says.

Writing about the marijuana business isn’t easy because of variances in state laws. For a quick overview of these differences, check out NPR’s interactive graphic with state-by-state comparisons.  Many state department of health agencies, including Oregon’s, post statistics on patients, their medical conditions permitting medicinal marijuana usage and their caregivers, or growers. As more states reject federal restrictions and legalize medical marijuana, pay attention to rules set for growers. These rules may make it easier to cover the business side of the law.

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