As an advocate of cannabis, over the years we have often spoken of the jobs and revenues that will come from legalized  cannabis businesses. Here’s a look into a few of our locally owned new OLCC licensed cannabis businesses and how they  are contributing to the area economy and community.

First up is Avitas, manufacturer of CO2 vapable oil and oil cartridge products. Avitas got it’s start in  Washington state and in  August of 2016, expanded by opening its facility in Salem. Sales Executive, Sheena Hickerson tells us that the company chose Salem because “ it’s centrally located”. “Avitas is a leading cartridge manufacturer in Washington” says Hickerson “ They provide products that are labeled all natural with no added flavorings. Avitas has a track record for reaching out to the community. In Washington they donated a wetland portion of their cannabis farm for inclusion in a wildlife refuge. Hickerson says that some of the companies key people have backgrounds in non- profits and they look forward to getting involved in the Salem community. Avitas currently employs ten people and plans to expand it’s product line, while adding ten to twenty new employees.

Next is Gaia Bounty Inc. Bill Cyr , Managing Partner, says  he also chose Salem because of it’s “ logistical accessibility”. After growing up in a food distribution and french fry business family, Cyr worked for an international food corporation before retiring in 2008. Now he operates Gaia Bounty, manufacturer of high quality, tempered, cannabis infused chocolates. Their products come in a variety of sizes, potency and flavors, including dark, milk and white chocolate. Cyr says their product line is “ GMO free and has gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free options”.  Cyr began with two full and four part time employees. Since it’s inception in 2014, the company has already increased to eight full time and five part time employees and they have plans to expand even more. They have recently acquired a  second location in Salem. They will be expanding their line to include mints and other non-chocolate products. The new facility will house Unique Food Works Inc., a manufacturer of value added, locally sourced hemp based products including hemp CBD and other derivatives. They will be hiring ten new employees to launch the business.

Lastly, is Sol Sisters Cannabis Farms, located in Polk County Oregon. The three generation family behind Sol Sisters has been farming in Oregon since 1920. They farmed traditional row crops such as peppermint, beans and strawberries during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, then moved to bedding plants in 1969. The Youngest member Jordan, 35, joined his father , Doug, 59, and grandfather, Glen, 81 in the family business in the late 1990’s. Their newest addition of a cannabis farm was started in March of 2016. They are currently growing 19 strains of cannabis and retain genetics for about 40 strains. Doug Hart, owner, says they are planning to expand their grow canopy later this year with the renewal of their OLCC license. Sol Sisters currently employs up to twelve people and is planning on adding more people as they expand into the cannabis oil processing market. Doug thinks it’s a natural transition, joking that “ every good farmers got a still”.  They plan to manufacture oil cartridges and edibles oil to the wholesale market. Sol Sisters is proud to bring family history and professional techniques to the new industry. “We are a hands in the dirt family working with mother nature to produce a bounty” says Doug Hart.

These are just a few of the many cannabis businesses and ancillary businesses that are contributing to our local economy and community. It appears the Mid-Willamette Valley is well situated for the location of these cannabis businesses. Each of their products are now available in local retail cannabis stores. Revenues from the state, county and city marijuana taxes will help local municipalities.

So we wanted to introduce you to some of our local businesses that are providing jobs, revenues and otherwise supporting our local community.

Margo Lucas is the owner of West Salem Cannabis and Cowgirl Cannabis. A believer in good communication and education, Lucas has advocated for the industry at city, county and state levels.