US: Oregon town's cannabis boom yields envy in Idaho

For John Leeds, the hour-and-a-half commute to and from his job as assistant manager at Treasure Valley Cannabis Company is exhausting, but logistically unavoidable.

Like nearly half of the other employees, Mr. Leeds, 39, lives in Idaho and travels along Interstate 84, past sprawling alfalfa and onion fields, to the cannabis shop just across the Oregon state line, where cannabis is legal. “It’s really two different worlds,” Mr. Leeds said. “A lot of whiplash on this issue just in a car ride up and down the highway.”

Every day, hundreds of customers and workers like Mr. Leeds make the pilgrimage from Idaho to Ontario, Ore., a small city nestled along the Snake River that is home to 11 dispensaries — roughly one for every 1,000 residents. They can compare the aromas of various strains of cannabis and gather the staff’s insights on THC levels in edibles.

The cannabis boom is helping to drive a thriving local economy — and tax revenues that have paid for new police positions, emergency response vehicles, and park and trail improvements. Missing out on the action has become increasingly frustrating to some politicians and longtime residents in Idaho, where the population and living costs have surged in recent years.


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