Legalized marijuana creating new business in Portland

Portland, Ore.— The legalization of marijuana is already beginning to reshape the economy in Oregon. Entrepreneurs are looking for ways to profit from products and services that support this new industry.

"Every day my scale, my business plan is constantly changing because I'm realizing the opportunity is much larger than I would have imagined," said Noah Stokes, founder and C.E.O. of OmniGuard Security.

Stokes has expanded his existing company by opening a new division 'CannaGuard Security' that specializes in protecting legal marijuana operations.

"In the industry, if you talk to anybody who grows, has been growing or is currently growing, they've all been robbed," said Stokes.

Ancillary services like security, advertising and tourism are catering to the new marijuana economy.

"At the end of the day this is a business and these kinds of businesses selling marijuana need the same kind of services as ice cream, coffee or any other kind of product," said Tom Towslee of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

On Friday, the law firm Garvey Schubert and Barer hosted a public seminar in Portland about the growing marijuana industry. Marijuana-related businesses must deal with uncertain state and local regulations, along with federal law.

"We have just seen a broad, broad spectrum of clients and our practice has been very robust in the last 18 months," said attorney Hal Snow of Garvey Schubert Barer.

Small-business owner Mary Lou Burton of Portland is using her experience as a wedding planner to explore new opportunities. She organized the Cannabis Creative Conference to be held at the Portland Expo Center on July 29-30.

"I've been planning and doing trade shows in Oregon for 26 years. There are now new opportunities to grow and this is an amazing industry," said Burton.

Tourism could also grow. The website Hotels.com reports searches for stays in Oregon, after marijuana becomes legal on July 1, are up 64 percent.

The Oregon Governor's Conference on Tourism, held in Eugene this weekend, will also explore new opportunities. One workshop session is entitled, "Marijuana Legalization & What it Means to Oregon's Travel and Tourism Industry."


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