Jackson Co., Ore. — Cannabis hasn’t been legal nearly as long as alcohol, but it’s supporters are already giving the wine industry a run for it’s money. A new study done by an Oregon economist found while vintners made $55 billion dollars nationally last year, cannabis was right behind at $50 billion.
In the Applegate Valley, ‘Valley View Winery’ has been owned by the Wisnovsky family for decades.
“A lot of people just thought it was a novelty, they didn’t really know what to think about Oregon wine or Southern Oregon wine,” Mark Wisnovsky said. “To see the incredible growth that we’ve had in the last 20 years, especially, there’s over 70 wineries just in Southern Oregon.”
But he recognizes that Southern Oregon isn’t just a vintner’s paradise.
“The Applegate was probably known for cannabis long before it was known for wine grapes, what’s new of course is that it’s now, it’s now legal.”
Adam Lipsky, owner of Pacific Cannabis Company isn’t surprised by the study.
“I have friends in Napa Valley, a few of them that are pretty deep in the wine industry, that own businesses in the wine industry and are selling some of their businesses to move into the cannabis industry because it’s just looking more lucrative,” Lipsky said.
Pacific Cannabis Co. does consultations on pest and mold management, among other things at farms throughout the state. Lipsky has only been open two years, but he’s already closed his business to the public. He now only works with licensed recreational and medical clients, and even that selective base is growing rapidly.
“If you go on to the OLCC web page, and you look at approved licenses– 30 to 50 licenses every week,” Lipsky said.
As for Wisnovsky, he considers the industry a welcome addition to the region.
“We have an opportunity and when I say we, I mean everybody, not just those in the wine industry, but everybody in Southern Oregon, to really support and grow a legal agricultural product,” Wisnovsky said.
The study also found that more than 1,000 businesses in Oregon alone relate to cannabis. Today, 26 states have some form of legal marijuana. Oregon is one of seven that allow it for recreational use.