OR: Planting local Roots – Colorado Marijuana company Opens Eugene Grow Facility

Photo Credit: Chris Pietsch

In another sign that out-of-state marijuana businesses are increasingly interested in Oregon, a Colo­rado firm has opened a large new pot grow operation near the Eugene Airport.

Terrapin Care Station will open a retail store in downtown Eugene in August, but it’s already growing a crop of marijuana in a warehouse it bought near the airport.

The warehouse — vacant for years — spans more than 18,000 square feet and now has a series of stark white-walled rooms specifically designed for pot cultivation­. Officials with the Colo­rado-­based company visited Eugene last week and gave The Register-Guard a tour, on the condition that the newspaper not reveal the building’s exact location because of safety concerns­. Pot-growing facilities must register with the state and meet state security standards, but under Oregon public records law, the state can keep the locations secret. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has licensed more than 100 marijuana growing operations in Lane County.

Terrapin Care Station officials do, however, want people to know where their retail shop will be — 835 E. Park St., right by the Park Blocks. All of the marijuana flower sold in the shop will come from the company’s Oregon growing operation, said Shawn Coleman, the company’s director of government affairs.

Terrapin has pot in Colorado, but it can’t ship the stuff to Oregon. Under federal law, pot is an illegal drug, and interstate transport is illegal.

Terrapin Care Station began in Boulder, Colo., in 2009 and has grown to five shops in and around Denver. The company grows some of the marijuana it sells in Colorado.

The company in 2015 bought the downtown Eugene building, and the company said it looks forward to operating in the Eugene market.

Eugene is “the type of community we like,” Coleman said. He noted that the retail shop will have a low-key storefront.

Full City Café is next door, at 842 Pearl St., although the two shops will have main entrances on opposite sides of the block, Michael Phinney, the owner of the popular coffee shop, said Monday. Full City has had the downtown location for about 28 years.

The adjacent building that will house the pot store has long been offices, but he said he is not worried about the change.

“I have no reason to be concerned,” Phinney said. “It’s just another business these days.”

Terrapin Care Station paid $950,000 for the building on Park Street and $1.6 million for the warehouse near the airport, according to Lane County property records.

The warehouse sale was completed in December. Company spokesman Peter Marcus declined to go into specifics about how much the company is spending to start up in Eugene.

Terrapin Care Station’s plans for downtown add to the ongoing debate about the proliferation of marijuana stores in Eugene’s core. Three marijuana stores — the Flowr of Lyfe at 114 W. Broadway, Sweet Leaf at 941 Olive St. and TJ’s on Willamette at 1027 Willamette St. — already are in business within a couple of blocks.

Eugene City Council members have discussed the possibility of requiring a 1,000-foot, or about 2½-block, distance between pot shops in the city, but they have not approved such a restriction. Portland and some other cities around the state have buffer rules.

Marcus said company officials are paying attention to the concerns of other downtown Eugene merchants and property owners.

“One of the things we are hearing is people don’t mind cannabis­ downtown,” he said, “but they don’t want downtown to be defined by cannabis.”

Terrapin has a license in place with the Oregon Liquor Control­ Commission to sell marijuana at its downtown location. During their Oregon visit, Terrapin officials met with city leaders and people tied to downtown businesses and interests.

Terrapin launched the grow operation 21/2 months ago, according to Troy Conzelmann, head grower for the company in Eugene.

One room contains “mother” marijuana plants, from which growers snip cuttings to be grown as their own plants. The operation has a nursery for small plants and four other big rooms that contain mature plants in various stages of growth.

The plan is to harvest upward of 150 pounds of pot every two weeks, said Ian Peak, director of cultivation for Terrapin.

Light cycles determine when marijuana flowers, he said. In the controlled, indoor environment, the process can be made to happen fast.

“They don’t call it weed for nothing,” Peak said.