Known for its quaint antique shops and charming colonial history, Aurora is now home to its own downtown cannabis dispensary. And, if you were expecting there to be ferocious push-back in this very small town of barely 1,000 souls — you’d be sorely mistaken.
Justice Cannabis Company officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday — with the mayor and three City Council members in attendance.
“Hey — just because we were founded in the 19th century doesn’t mean we can’t live in the 21st century,” quipped City Councilor John Berard.
Located on Highway 99E next to the Aurora Colony Pub, the dispensary is licensed for both recreational and medical marijuana sales and is open daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The shop is owned by Samantha and Dalton Justice, also growers who operate Orgo Farms. The high school sweethearts grew up in Canby before earning degrees at Oregon State University and returning to the area to start their farm.
Dalton’s origin story as a cannabis grower may not be what you’d expect. The pre-med student was working at an electrophysiology lab when one of his supervisors dumped a stack of publications on his desk — all, as it turned out, on cannabis research.
“I thought she wanted me to read them,” he recalled with a laugh. “Turned out, she was just cleaning out her desk. But I read them all, and that’s how I got my start.”
The Justices began growing in 2015, eventually founding Orgo Farms — a well-regarded boutique producer known for high-quality indoor and outdoor cannabis.
They have been steadily working toward opening their own dispensary — and are thrilled to be able to do so in a small community so close to their roots.
“We can’t believe we got into a place where we already feel so at home and can really invest in the community,” Samantha said. “We just want anybody who walks in here to feel comfortable and have a positive experience.”
Aurora has technically allowed dispensaries since the drug was legalized in Oregon — and therefore receives a cut of the state’s marijuana revenue.
Still, an actual dispensary in the town seemed unlikely because the use was banned in Aurora’s historic district — which includes most of the small commercial spaces that would make sense for retail marijuana sales.
That changed in February 2020, when the Aurora City Council approved a change to the municipal code allowing medical and recreational cannabis shops in the historic downtown core under certain conditions.
The Justices were involved in that process and spoke positively about working with the city and officials to bring the budding new industry to downtown Aurora.
Another nearby dispensary, The Green Planet, opened for recreational and medical cannabis sales earlier this year in unincorporated Clackamas County between Aurora and Canby.
Neighboring Canby does not allow marijuana businesses of any type — a prohibition shared by other midsized cities in Clackamas County such as Lake Oswego, West Linn and Wilsonville.
Almost 60% of Canby residents favored the ban in the 2016 general election — the last time it was put to a vote.
But some communities have reversed course in the years after recreational marijuana was legalized.
Just last year, Sherwood — a similarly sized city in Washington County — voted to allow cannabis businesses after voters there had rejected such measures in 2016 and 2017.
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