Jars of medicinal marijuana at Pure Green, in this file photo from a Portland dispensary.
Katelyn Black / OPB
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As Oregon’s cannabis market matures, and a push to federally legalize the product gains momentum, an industry that got its start in basements, backyards and forests is taking its ambitions global, at the same time as local consumption drives breakneck growth.
Small shops are consolidating into chains. Brands are growing in clout. Small-scale consumers are getting more comfortable with the idea of stopping by the dispensary for a joint or edible, driving sales up 40% last year to over $1 billion.
Russian oligarchs and African monarchs have even taken note. In short, as Oregon State University marketing professor Aimee Dinnin Huff put it: “The market is becoming more mature.”
Global ambitions span from Oregon to Florida — and on to Africa
Stem Holdings is based in Florida, but it has a significant footprint in the Pacific Northwest. And it briefly floated a plan to create a cannabis monopoly with the monarchy of Eswatini, a small country in southern Africa that’s often referred to as Swaziland.
Sary Leu, who formerly worked for Stem-holdings-owned Yerba Buena in Hillsboro, said she was shocked when she learned the company that bought her employer had plans to establish a cannabis monopoly in a small African nation.
Former Yerba Buena employee Sary Leu said the purchase was a surprise. But it was nothing compared to the shock staff received when they looked into Stem’s filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and found plans for a cannabis monopoly in