I’ve rhapsodized in the past about two of my favorite cannabis products—in April 2015, I penned a column about Drip Ice Cream, and a year later I spotlighted Luminous Botanicals in the Mercury’s Topical Trial Test. I tried both, repeatedly, and loved them, and after talking to the owners of both companies, I loved them even more. Drip and Luminous are shining examples of what Oregon craft cannabis companies can epitomize—new startups with owners wearing many hats, just like any small business. And as Walmart has taught us, we always want to support small businesses. (Man, fuck Walmart.)
Then one day, late last year, I walked into my favorite local dispensary (REDACTED), and discovered that the products I loved were gone. I headed down to the next dispensary and... same deal. I asked when they would be restocked, and the budtender replied, “Not sure they will be. I think they both went out of business.”
I was floored. How could that be? Many of my friends and medical cardholder patients were familiar fans of these companies, so I know it wasn’t due to lack of customer interest. There hadn’t been any canna-scandals in terms of either brand or their owners. There had been some rule changes—lots of them, actually—but could they have taken out two flourishing companies? And would these changes have come from state or city?
Having no easy answer as to where the blame rested, and more importantly, having no cannabis-infused ice cream (#chubbystonerproblems), I opted to send a polite inquiry to Drip in my capacity as a member of the press:
“WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? WHATEVER I DID, I’M SORRY, I NEED YOU, NOW. I NEED YOU IN MY MOUTH! IS IT MONEY? I CAN GIVE YOU MORE MONEY. I MISS YOU SO MUCH.”
Surprisingly, Andi Bixel, CEO of Drip Ice Cream, charitably opted not to block me or report me to the Portland Police Bureau. Rather, she replied that yes, they “were off the shelves but would be back... soon.”
“Yes, but soon when, exactly?” I cried. “And what do you expect me to do until then, smoke a joint and then, what, eat some Salt & Straw? Who’s ever done that?”
Devan Anthony, co-owner of Luminous Botanicals (along with fellow co-owner Sally Alworth) was equally hopeful but vague. “We aren’t on the shelves, for now,” he patiently explained in response to my frantic missives. “We are working out some... challenges, but we plan to be available in short order.”
This was a small comfort to my medical cardholder patients, many of whom had begun to rely on Luminous’ blend of cannabis-infused, organic coconut and almond oils—in three distinct formulations of THC, CBD, or a combination of both—as uniquely effective forms of relief.
But I made do with the hopeful assurances the products would be returning. And I’m happy to report that recently, both did, but I was still curious as to what had happened.
So I reached out again and asked if they would be willing to share their stories with me. Both agreed, and shortly walked me through the Book of Job-like challenges they had respectively faced. I was taken aback, to say the least.
Drip and Luminous’ stories were surprising to me on many fronts. They included ongoing obstacles from regulatory agencies as the recreational market matured and new rules were introduced. Both companies suffered lengthy delays in getting permits approved, and had to contend with a real estate market that, as it turns out, isn’t very friendly towards cannabis businesses. Their tales were different but similar enough, and I realized I wasn’t going to have enough space in my regular column to explore the matter thoroughly.
So on September 27, I’m going to go into greater detail as far as what happened to both Drip and Luminous, with a piece in the Mercury’s annual Oregon Cannabis Guide supplement. Starting a cannabis business is a dream for many—and Oregon has a plethora of creative entrepreneurs who are not just growing or selling it, but crafting something new and unique using the cannabis plant, be it edible, topical, or what have you. But how viable is that dream in the current business climate of Portland, a city with real estate prices spiking out of control? And not to sound paranoid, but just how supportive is the city of Portland to small cannabis businesses, really?