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Horse Sense

In the final race of the day on July 9 at Grants Pass Downs, the horse Storm on the River charged down the final stretch of the track and opened up several lengths of space for a come-from-behind win. It was an exciting race, but perhaps most curious, the winning $10,000 purse was partially sponsored by an Ashland-based marijuana grower, BJS A-Grade.

That sponsorship is a great example about how weed growers and sellers have become important community members and contributors in the two years since marijuana was legalized in the state. What started as an experiment has quickly become a mainstream industry—and is doing so with class and dignity, as new wealth and business leaders emerging, and doing so with seemingly a philosophy of contribution as part of their ethos.  

Since legalization, it is estimated that the weed industry has created 1,000 new businesses, 12,000 new jobs—and contributes to more than $1.2 billion in annual economic activity. Weed sales directly contributed $10 million to the state’s budget in the first six months of 2017, not to mention additional income taxes.

Yes, those are impressive and important economic contributions, but we were especially touched that, now out of the shadows, weed growers and sellers have become important community contributors, donating funds to sponsor music festivals, sparking up a modest cottage industry of weed marketing and ad dollars, and now underwriting local sporting events. Here, here!

In an interview with the Ashland Daily Tidings, BJS co-owner Stuart Sadorf explained his motivation to help sponsor the horse race—and the track. “It’s given me a lot of enjoyment,” he said, talking about horse racing, “and now that I have the means to give something back, I’ve decided to do that.” He added, “Watching as a fan, seeing the short race fields, seeing the horsemen struggle, people trying to eke out a living on peanuts … I decided to do something.”

Isn’t that precisely the attitude and generosity we would hope from every successful business-person? To give back to their community.

Sadorf has lived in southern Oregon for the past 25 years, after moving from Idaho to attend SOU. He grew up watching horse races in Boise, and has frequented the track in Grants Pass as an adult.

Sadorf also told the Daily Tidings, “There’s a lot of money out there, as far as the marijuana businesses that want to be part of the community.”

That is encouraging, and we truly hope that his example inspires others who are part of the new wealth emerging in the weed industry also to support their communities.

No one blinks any more when beer or liquor companies sponsor sporting or music events. In Denver, there is Coors Field where the Colorado Rookies play, and Miller Park in Wisconsin is (appropriately) where the Brewers play. Entire cities (St. Louis comes to mind) have been buoyed around the philanthropy of beer.

We hope that the same acceptance for generosity from weed business-people also will follow.

Southern Oregon has long been home-base for the weed industry. But now that it is out of the shadows and legitimate business leaders are emerging—and we are excited to watch this new trend of community philanthropy take shape as well.

Our next issue is our popular Weed Issue. Last year, we profiled a number of women who had entered various parts of the marijuana business, and asked their insights into the then-year old business. This year, we plan to examine the business implications. Please send any ideas or observations you have about the weed industry, the business culture gathering around it, and any of the leaders you hope we will profile.


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