BEND, Ore. - "I couldn't believe we were the first in Bend," Ben Hebert, owner of Dr Jolly's, said Monday. "That's a great feeling. That's a lot of hard work to get to this point."
Dr. Jolly's is not even open yet, but it already has reason to celebrate. It's the first medical marijuana dispensary in Central Oregon to get an official state license.
It is one out of only eight statewide licensed so far.
"It's a huge burden that has been lifted, getting the license. It was very uncertain, and we did it. We couldn't be more excited," Hebert said.
While one business owner is celebrating, 15 other dispensaries in Central Oregon are still anxiously awaiting their licenses.
"After everything we've invested in the business, our savings, we are very nervous," said Ron Koch, partner at Cannabend LLC. "Not only on the application process, but just where the industry stands today, with the laws federally vs. the state."
The Oregon Health Department is going through 50 applications a week. Every Friday, they are going to post a list with the recent approvals on their website http://www.oregon.gov/oha/mmj/Pages/index.aspx.
With almost 300 applications in hand, some dispensaries might have to wait until early May to find out if they can continue with their business plan.
The plethora of restrictions has those waiting still nervous.
"They have a lot of measures in place for security, and we're fully compliant. At this point, we're just waiting and hoping that we do get approved, so it wasn't all in vain," said Koch.
One of the biggest factors is location. Dispensaries are not allowed within 1,000 feet of another dispensary. Licenses are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Reason enough for Dr. Jolly's to wait with their renovations until now.
"The main reason is if we didn't get the license and somebody else did, we could lose all of our investment," Hebert said.