News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Canyon Cannabis sets reopening for 4.20

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Canyon Cannabis is back in business after an outpouring of community support helped expedite license approval by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).

A grand re-opening is scheduled for April 20 at its new Mill City location at 415 NE Santiam Blvd. The date not only marks a celebration of cannabis worldwide but the fifth year since the business opened its doors originally in Gates.

Co-owner Thorin Thacker said Canyon Cannabis’ clients are thrilled to have the dispensary back, not only for their products but as a sign of recovery in Mill City.

“Everybody has been telling us how happy they are to see us,” said Thacker.

Canyon Cannabis co-owner Thorin Thacker shows off his inventory after the business received state approval to re-open in Mill City.

Licensing delays

Canyon Cannabis burned down at its original Gates location during the 2020 wildfires, and since then the road to re-opening has been arduous. Thacker and his supporters successfully repealed a ban on marijuana business in Mill City in November 2021, then went through the process of receiving a license and zoning variance from the city.

They were able to apply with OLCC for a license transfer Feb. 7 and expected to open soon afterward, but on March 8 Thacker was told he may have to wait indefinitely before a case worker could review the application. While this started as a discouraging moment, it became an opportunity for the community to step up and help.

“We had so many citizens reach out,” said Thacker after news of the delay broke.

Thacker said local leaders and community members reached out to OLCC, including State Senator Fred Girod, to call attention to a business attempting to rebuild after the fires. Thacker said these advocates must have reached the right people because, by March 18, OLCC called to tell Canyon Cannabis they had been approved.

“Once it got maybe to the right person, [OLCC] went out of their way,” he said. “OLCC did us a real solid, as frustrating as it was to go through that wait.”

A spokesperson for OLCC told The Statesman Journal the agency has a policy of fast-tracking license applications for dispensaries affected by wildfires, and had not been notified of Canyon Cannabis’ status as a fire victim when they applied.

Back in business

Canyon Cannabis had a soft reopening March 22 and is currently stocked with recreational and medical marijuana products from a variety of Oregon vendors. But Thacker said their selection is not nearly what it had been in Gates as the business needs to start producing revenue once more before it can fully replenish its selection of products.

Thacker said the business’ dedication to hand-selected quality will help bring people back, as well as its relaxed and colorful atmosphere. He said, while some dispensaries have a sterile environment like a doctor’s office, Canyon Cannabis recreates what marijuana shops could have been like if legal in the 1970s.

“A lot goes into who we are, what we decide to carry,” he said. “We’re in paradise. We have the coolest shop.”

When reflecting on where Canyon Cannabis has been during the last five years, Thacker said the highs and lows have been extreme. 

While in Gates, they provided living-wage jobs for a full staff with no employee turnover, as well as a steady stream of tax revenue for the city and state. But after the wildfires, Canyon Cannabis was unable to qualify for FEMA relief because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Thacker said this was particularly frustrating because he pays federal taxes just like neighboring shops.

“We’ve got to pay for the field, we just don’t get to play on it,” he said.

But as attitudes toward marijuana change, he said he hopes more and more people will realize dispensaries are no different than convenience stores up the road. And with Canyon Cannabis re-opening, Thakcer hopes residents who have misgivings about his business will see the positive impact it has on the community.

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