Jim and Kevin Fisher grew up on an apple farm in upstate New York. By the time the brothers were teenagers, they were regularly tending and harvesting the orchard, planting and pruning thousands of trees and watching how their parents managed the business.
Whenever the brothers had the chance, they’d smoke weed from pipes they carved out of apples and dream about moving out West and becoming musicians.
Today, the brothers are drawing on the lessons of their upbringing to navigate Oregon’s increasingly competitive and oversupplied market for marijuana, three years into the state’s experiment with legalization.
For the July 1 anniversary of when it became legal to grow and possess the plant, The Oregonian/OregonLive interviewed a range of people who have seen its effects.
Adult marijuana use is up measurably, according to surveys. Still, the latest data show the overwhelming majority of Oregon adults didn’t touch marijuana in the past month. (The same cannot be said for alcohol.)
There have been elevated numbers of cannabis-related poison center calls, emergency room visits and impaired driving incidents that have concerned state officials. But in a broader context, those numbers remain a relatively small component of all poisonings, ER visits and impaired driving cases.
And teen usage has changed little, surveys show, although public health officials caution that it’s too soon to judge legalization’s lasting social and health impacts.
Meanwhile, the market is so flush with extra weed that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has put a temporary moratorium on grow licenses. Black market sales, concerns about potency and worries about big companies edging out local producers are universal for supporters and critics of the industry.
The Fisher brothers, who own and operate a Mulino cannabis farm and a Portland dispensary, said they’ve had to adjust the amount of the crop they’re growing this year and won’t plant half of their eight greenhouses.
“We know how much we can sell through the dispensary. There’s no point in contributing to the oversupply,” Kevin Fisher said.
But they remain upbeat about the work they get to do. Thanks to legalization, their livelihood, which was once a contentious pastime, is becoming more accepted.