When the words “pioneer” and “Oregon” are used in the same sentence, thoughts usually drift to the Oregon Trail; but Pete Gendron is trying to shift that to visions of the cannabis industry.
Gendron has been involved in cannabis cultivation, advocacy, and policy creation for more than 30 years. His work in the cannabis industry and his organic farming methods have earned him the nickname “Pioneer Pete” from those in Oregon. Mirroring the pioneers who came before on the Oregon Trail, Gendron wasn’t born in Oregon. He moved there from Indiana in search of a more cannabis-friendly environment. Despite the conservative values and laws in Indiana, Gendron ran several cannabis and hemp events on Earth Day in the state. He even created the first organic grocery department in Indiana at Goodness! Grocery.
Gendron is a pioneer in fields beyond event planning: He also created cannabidiol (CBD) extracts in 1990, had one of the first medical cannabis cards in Oregon, and has been offering classes on the plant for decades.
“I just learned from a young age that the government wasn’t telling the truth about drugs, especially in those DARE anti-drug campaigns they had,” Gendron said. “Once I tried cannabis and saw the effects it had on my health, it made me want to keep going and find out what else they were lying about.”
That drive to learn and to educate about uses for the cannabis plant—as hemp or for medicine— has pushed Gendron further and further into the expanding cannabis industry. He was so involved with Oregon’s medical cannabis program and had recommended legislation or rules so often that he was drafted to help with drafting rule for the Oregon recreational laws. Gendron was one of 15 people who created recreational cannabis rules as part of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) Recreational Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee. He also serves on several subcommittees for the OLCC.
Gendron said the biggest issues facing Oregon’s cannabis industry currently are related to the opening of the market to those who don’t live in the state, as well as the elimination of options for medical patients and cultivators under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP).
“We started with having an option for a 5-year plan to phase out a residency requirement for Oregon’s recreational cannabis market,” Gendron said. “That would allow for a free market system after some time, to allow the local producers and people who had built the industry to have some time to develop. There was kind of a shift and it looks like it’ll just be open immediately. While that is a drawback a bit, and doesn’t give locals a head start, it does get us to a free market. This goes back to the constitution in my views; we’re guaranteed the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’re not guaranteed to succeed or not lose money in business.”
Gendron is now making his years of experience with the Oregon legislature, cannabis cultivation, and event planning available to the masses with his consulting business Omnibudsman Enterprises. He offers a variety of services, including connecting new entrepreneurs to other experts in the field, and helping to source and store cannabis genetics according to new laws.
Omnibudsman Enterprises is working with building inspectors in their newest consulting projects. Gendron said that as the cannabis industry is being developed, one hole has been the building code. Not much written has been written on the safety issues and fire concerns that may be important for an extraction facility or an indoor cultivation site. Gendron said that these issues and a lack of knowledge have led to delays in certification of businesses upon inspection. To help remedy some of these issues he is teaching classes to groups of 250 building inspectors, firefighters and code officials so they can better determine occupancy limits and procedures.
Gendron made it clear that he isn’t a lawyer, but he can provide knowledge and outlets a lawyer couldn’t.
“I tell people that what my contemporary Lee (Leland Berger), a cannabis lawyer out of Portland, does and what I do aren’t the same,” Gendron said. “He helps people with legal issues they get into from cannabis and I like to say that I’ve spent 25 years avoiding the kinds of problems and legal issues his clients face.”
Gendron also serves as the President of the Oregon Sungrowers Guild and runs the Oregon Cannabis Cup and the Oregon Hemp Festival.
For more information on Omnibudsman Enterprises you can visit them at www.facebook.com/omnibudsmanenterprises/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.