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Side effect of new pot laws? Low demand for medical marijuana

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The rise of recreational marijuana is hurting the medical-marijuana business, as dispensaries report of a dying industry with a medical-marijuana card no longer a hurdle to gaining access to pot, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

On the plus side, a medical marijuana card can be valuable as a “discount card,” Sam Elkington, owner of Track Town Collective medical-marijuana dispensary in Glenwood, Oregon, told the wire service. In Oregon, the card exempts the buyer from state and local pot taxes, which are levied on recreational pot. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2015 and medicinal marijuana in 1998.

“Medical-only is smaller than small,” Mr. Elkington said of his niche of business, which collected $58 from three medical-marijuana customers on Monday. Yet another 15 to 20 potential customers come in asking for recreational pot, which he can't sell until he is licensed to do so with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. His new business plan? Let his status as a medical pot dispensary lapse in March.

"It's a financial decision," Mr. Elkington told a reporter, who went on to discover that this little pot shop is not alone. Nearly 25% of the dispensary license holders with the state — five out of 21 — had notified the state as of Monday that they plan to apply to sell recreational pot rather than medical marijuana, an Oregon Health Authority spokesman told a reporter.