The Columbian / Associated Press

Oregon marijuana shops begin sales to recreational users

Employees of Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, Ore., help customers purchase recreational marijuana on Thursday. Oregon marijuana shops began selling marijuana Thursday for the first time to recreational users who are at least 21 years old, marking a big day for the budding pot industry. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

PORTLAND — Oregon marijuana stores have begun sales to recreational users, marking a big day for the budding pot industry in the state and elsewhere in the nation.

Some of the more than 250 dispensaries in Oregon that already offer medical marijuana opened their doors early Thursday to begin selling the drug just moments after it became legal to do so.

At Portland’s Shango Premium Cannabis, co-founder Shane McKee says the first sale to an excited customer came a minute after midnight.

Store owners say they’re hopeful they can avoid the shortages and price spikes that followed the start of legal sales last year in Washington and Colorado, the only other states where the drug can now be sold for recreational use.

Many stores in Oregon are trying to lure customers with extended hours, food giveaways and discounted marijuana.

Shoppers have one more incentive to buy early and often: Under Oregon law, pot purchases will be tax-free until January — a savings of up to 20 percent.