ONTARIO, Or — For the past few years Huntington enjoyed a green wave being the only town in eastern Oregon that allowed recreational marijuana dispensaries, however, that is no longer the case.
Burnt River Farms is the second cannabis dispensary to open in Ontario and its owner has the only marijuana farm in eastern Idaho located in Huntington where he is the President of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce.
"Marijuana has been a huge tax boost for Huntington seeing well over $700,000 a year in local tax revenue," said Shawn McKay of Burnt River Farms. "We have already seen a huge decrease in daily traffic and we expect that to continue as more stores open up in Ontario."
McKay said the drop-off in Huntington marijuana business was expected because many of the customers come from the Treasure Valley in Idaho where marijuana is illegal.
So when Shawn and his wife had the opportunity to open a dispensary in Ontario they jumped at the chance and it is a unique dispensary because Burnt River Farms grows the products just down the road in Huntington.
"It is absolutely amazing and mind blowing and stressful," said McKay. "But I love every minute of it."
More dispensaries are on the way and Ontario hopes to see the same kind of economic boom that came to Huntington, Burnt River Farms between their new dispensary and the farm employ 80 workers.
McKay expects the landscape of the cannabis industry to continue to evolve over the years as regulations between states, counties and municipalities continue to change.
"I feel like it's going to be like that for the five to ten years," said McKay. "It is going to continue to be a volatile industry."