As election nears, One Gro looks toward future of cannabis industry

By Erin Tierney

The Creswell Chronicle

It won’t be long before the special election on Nov. 7, where Creswell residents will vote on two measures – one being Measure 20-280 to lift the prohibition of marijuana sales in Creswell.

The marijuana ban lift has caused much political unrest in the community these past couple of months. Last week, The Chronicle reported that Jessica Landstra, owner of Farmlands Market in Creswell, was approached by One Gro Investment Group Owner Mike Arnold in what she considered an uncomfortable meeting about developing land by TJs Restaurant and Interstate 5.

“I’ve never in my lifetime seen where having a conversation about having a conversation about developing a certain area is seen as some clandestine, evil attempt,” One Gro Investment Group CEO Dan Isaacson said. “It just goes back to the hyperbole of the campaign. It feeds the mantra.”

There are two opposition groups formed in town, No to One Gro and Keep it Creswell. Many local business owners – over 20 – have aligned themselves publicly with the opposition groups.

“Mike (Arnold) is a big-picture kind of guy and I think some people have a hard time being big-picture people,” Isaacson said of the recent business proposals made by Arnold. Arnold “looks at one thing and throws himself into it for a while, and it either or works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t materialize, we move on to something else. It doesn’t mean that (those proposed plans are) absolutely what we’re doing.”

Isaacson said that Arnold was taken aback by Landstra’s reaction.

“His comment was, ‘She’s a business owner who isn’t in it to make money; then why isn’t she running a nonprofit?,’” Isaacson said. “I get the connotation that there’s a line of delineation that if you’re looking to make a profit, that somehow you’re a corporate titan. No – people need to pay their bills. It means you have to turn a profit; it doesn’t mean that you turn into a cold, corporate, callous, sterile environment. You can do something that benefits the community and turn a profit – the two are not mutually exclusive.”

The land that abuts Interstate 5 right now just sits, he said.

“We can develop (the land) together, and I can make money for everyone involved, as well as benefit the community at the same time,” Isaacson said. “Or, we can demonize the person that comes to the table with ideas.”

Like many, Isaacson is eagerly awaiting Nov. 9.

“When this is all over with and all those things we said were gonna happen do happen, and all the things (the opposition) said were gonna happen don’t happen, then they’re going to have to kind of reconcile the Chicken Littles of the world and decide; do you want to have a town that focuses on its future, or on its past?,” Isaacson said.

WHAT POST-ELECTION LOOKS LIKE, REGARDLESS

One Gro “always had plans for either outcome,” Isaacson said. “For (One Gro, it’s) how do we transition into a CBD dispensary if it’s a NO vote or a THC dispensary if it’s a YES vote.”

They are in the works to retrofit their building, Isaacson said. They have been speaking with builders and remodelers to see what the inside of the building will look like and anticipate a sleek, modern design.

One Gro is also working on signage to showcase their business. Isaacson said rules require that that sign cannot exceed the height of the roof, but that he’s got a large amount of building face to work with.

“I obviously want to (erect a sign that is) tasteful and respectful, but it’s a prime location spot, so we’ll be looking for a way to showcase what we do – this being our headquarters,” Isaacson said.

The One Gro 200-puff CBD inhaler has been soft-launched and their billboard can be seen on Interstate 5 near Eugene. Their THC inhaler will be launched in Oregon and California in the first week in November, and will later be launched in other states.

“One Gro processes four kilograms of oil per day at our 30th Avenue processing facility,” Isaacson said. “That’s enough to supply about a week and a half worth of all the oil we need to make all the inhalers for a year in Oregon.”

They also have a new One Gro dispensary, also off 30th Avenue, called Cannastary. Isaacson said the shop will be open at the end of the month. They are not affiliated with the other dispensary, High 5, which has a billboard near that exit, he said.

He said business has been doing great lately. He says One Gro has been busy settling into the next steps of their endeavor.

“We did projections on where (One Gro is) going to stand in a year and we’re looking at $40 to $60 million,” Isaacson said. “We would like to get to a point where we tip the scales to over $100 million, but that’ll take some time.”

If the vote is YES, the THC dispensary in Creswell will have 30 or 40 different strains of marijuana, and if it’s a NO vote, there will be about 15 CBD strain selections to choose from.

“What’s great about CBD is that it is cheaper to produce, the revenue is higher and there’s no taxes,” Isaacson added.

One Gro execs are also in talks with labor unions for supporting a cannabis workers union for its employees across the board, including field workers, dispensary workers and the like.

“The people who work in the cannabis industry are prone to being taken advantage of,” Isaacson said. ”They don’t necessarily have the best backgrounds sometimes; if they have experience in the industry, they definitely come from an illegal background. Being the largest grow in the state, we have a fairly large microphone and a lot of responsibility.”

Isaacson said the formation of a cannabis workers union is in its infant stages, but they’re floating the idea around. Creating a union is very complicated thing to do that needs a lot of backing from others in the industry, he said.

Their goal it to make sure that cannabis workers’ standards and pay are uniform, and that they have a grievance process if their employers are treating them incorrectly, Isaacson said.

“We want (cannabis workers) to have normal workers’ protection that should follow everybody,” Isaacson said. “It’s part of the normal maturing process this industry has to go through – much like insurance and banking – as we go from the basements and garages of people’s houses to a corporate setting. Those same luxuries that other companies have need to start coming on board.”

He’s glad this election is almost over, Isaacson said.

“There’s always that adage that you campaign in poetry but govern in prose and I’ll be glad when this is all over,” Isaacson said. “Then we can start actually doing things instead of fighting.”

Next week, The Chronicle will present a comprehensive overview of Measure 20-280.

Then, it will be up to voters decide – will it be a YES, or will it be a NO?