Northwest News

Ontario’s 2nd pot shop has opened. Burnt River Farms built store with Boise in mind

Burnt River 2 (1).jpeg
Burnt River Farms Cannabis Co. opened on Aug. 8, 2019, in Ontario, Oregon. It is the city’s second marijuana dispensary. Submitted photo

Ontario now has two marijuana dispensaries, and the newest one to open was designed and built by businesses from the Boise area.

“We wanted our customer base to feel like they were at home in this space,” Burnt River Farms Cannabis Co. co-owner Shawn McKay said in phone interview Thursday. “We wanted them to feel like they’re in downtown Boise and not Seattle. We took local current design elements being used in buildings throughout the Treasure Valley and incorporated them into our design.”

Burnt River Farms Cannabis Co. is located at 1055 Washington Ave. It is next to Love’s Travel Stop, near an Interstate 84 interchange.

Burnt River had a soft opening last week and celebrated its grand opening Thursday. It’s open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Weedology was the first marijuana dispensary to open in Ontario after city residents voted to repeal a ban on marijuana sales last November. It’s operating at 591 E. Idaho Ave. in a renovated building that was previously a service station and used car dealership.

HotBox Farms’ remodel of the former Oregon State Police building at 325 Goodfellow St. is ongoing. It received a temporary certificate of occupancy for the retail portion of the building Thursday but still has more city and state regulatory hurdles before opening, Ontario Community Development Director Dan Cummings said Thursday.

Steven Meland, co-owner of Hotbox Farms, previously told the Statesman that its decision to put steel in the ceiling, wall and floors — making it a secure vault — slowed progress toward opening. On Thursday, Meland said he didn’t have a projected opening date.

The city of Ontario has received 14 applications for retail marijuana sites and 13 have received conditional-use permits, Cummings said. Five have had their construction plans approved, including Weedology and Burnt River.

Burnt River Farms Cannabis Co. was designed and built to be a marijuana dispensary — one of a few or possibly the only one built for that specific purpose in Oregon, McKay said. A spokesman for the recreational marijuana program of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said there’s no way to determine that. There are about 600 licensed marijuana retailers in the state.

The striking 3,000-square-foot Burnt River building was designed by Bruce Poe of Modus Architecture in Boise and built by Radix Construction in Nampa, according to McKay.

One interesting feature of the building: siding made of reclaimed wood from a Montana barn.

Burnt River 1 (2).jpeg
Burnt River Farms Cannabis Co. opened Aug.8, 2019, in Ontario, Oregon. It’s the city’s secondary marijuana dispensary. Submitted photo

Burnt River Farms, formed in 2016 and named for a tributary of the Snake River in eastern Oregon, grows marijuana in Huntington, Oregon. It also has an extraction facility, commercial kitchen and distribution center. Burnt River makes its own products, including gummies, oil and hash.

“We have one of the only farm-to-market models in the state,” McKay said, noting that Burnt River carries a wide variety of products, not just those made in Huntington.

Burnt River’s staffing at its operations in Huntington and Ontario stands at about 80 people, and additional crews are hired seasonally for the harvest, according to McKay.

Though Idaho is surrounded by states that have legalized recreational and/or medical marijuana, all forms of cannabis remain illegal in Idaho. It’s a misdemeanor if you’re caught with less than 3 ounces, but you still could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Get convicted of felony possession and you’re looking at up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

That hasn’t stopped Idaho residents from crossing the border to shop at two marijuana dispensaries in Huntington, about 30 miles from Ontario.

Ontario, right on the state line, is a closer and easier trip for Treasure Valley customers, so the city is hoping to reap the financial rewards of that traffic. State projections show that the city could receive $600,000 to $1 million a year from the tax on pot sales.

Sales were brisk when Weedology opened in July, and many customers were from Idaho. In the week before its grand opening, Burnt River has served a couple of hundred people a day, McKay said.

Burnt River 3.jpg
Burnt River Farms Cannabis Co. opened on Aug. 8, 2019, in Ontario, Oregon. It is the city’s second marijuana dispensary. Submitted photo
Related stories from Tri-City Herald