Legal pot sales are becoming a big draw on Oregon’s coast, though tourism is what still drives the economy, according to locals
NEWPORT, Ore. — Eddie Biggar sports a black-and-green suit dotted with tiny green leaves as he dances jovially on a corner of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Some 2 ½ hours southwest of Portland, he owns the sidewalk. Just like a sign-waiver might promote the local pizzeria, The Weedman boasts $5 grams, urging customers down the street to CannaMedicine.
The state has licensed pot dealers in every Oregon county bordering the Pacific Ocean, with the highest number near the beach here in Lincoln County, state data show. But there’s little, so far, to suggest marijuana is changing the coastal economy, which is already largely fueled by tourism.
Still, there’s no question many out-of-towners are heading into coastal pot shops. Retailers say they’ve seen people from China, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and South Korea.
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“I’ve never seen so many different IDs in my life,” Shane Ramos-Harrington said in Touch of Aloha, his Hawaii-themed marijuana outpost in the area of Depoe Bay, a community boasting the “world’s smallest harbor.”
In the sales room, a chalk board displaying daily deals promised a 5 percent discount to customers outfitted in Hawaiian shirts.
Ramos-Harrington came from Oahu and opened the business, now looking to spread a little aloha to Oregon. That means putting energy into people — if they come into his store upset, hopefully they’ll leave happy.
Oregon’s stretch of oceanfront is no Southern California doppelgänger. Regular dark clouds over the ocean and towns sometimes make it feel like the sky sits on people’s shoulders. The sun rises over thick forests in the morning, setting over the water come evening.
“If you brought a swimsuit to the Oregon Coast, don’t worry, someone will loan you a sweater,” the Oregon Tourism Commission assures.
Near the coastal town of Yachats (yah-hawts), where hills cascade toward the ocean and visitors can buy crab fresh off the boat, Deb Cardy opened her uncluttered home for business.
Northeast Forest Hill Street branches off U.S. Highway 101 like a pine needle on a branch — that is, if the branch crossed through three states.
Hang a left onto the dirt street and you’re practically at Cardy’s front door. The nearby ocean is her white noise. “You…