Former commercial pilot opens Beaverton’s first dispensary
By Patrick Wagner
BEAVERTON, Ore. – Nyah Keliy was a commercial airline pilot, flight instructor and college lecturer before venturing into legal cannabis and opening the first medical dispensary in Beaverton, Oregon.
An Air Force veteran, Keliy suffered an injury in the line of duty that required surgery.
“That surgery fixed one problem, but opened up a couple new ones,” he said.
Keliy went through four years of trying to get medical clearance to get back into the cockpit. During one stretch, he was hospitalized in an intensive care unit 13 times in a single year. He became well-acquainted with narcotics and pain medication.
“The last time they sent me a line of morphine and it was horrible,” Keliy said. “I was still in pain. The treatments made me nauseous. I couldn’t see straight. I was pretty much a vegetable on the couch.”
Out of desperation, Keliy turned to cannabis, knowing it would take him one more step away from his federal pilot’s license.
After seeing how drastically his life improved, Keliy got a medical card. But for a person stopping by dispensaries on his way to teach college courses, Oregon’s dispensary scene lacked the professionalism Keliy wanted to see.
When he founded Growing ReLeaf in February 2015, he wanted a medical office. No themes. No gimmicks.
“You want it done right, do it yourself,” he said.
But prior to the state allowing medical dispensaries to sell to all adults, Keliy said owning and operating a medical business was becoming increasingly difficult with every passing month.
“Each month there were dozens more dispensaries coming into it,” he said. “It was definitely a struggle to be in medical with so many other places continually opening. Even when we have a line out the door, I know that there are other places that are completely empty.”
With recreational sales under way, Keliy said Growing ReLeaf is “trying to hold onto the coattails, just to keep up with the traffic increase.” He said part of Growing ReLeaf’s success was due to it being a dispensary first and having a grow in place only to fill in supply chain gaps. But Keliy didn’t hold back when designing a portion of his 2,000-square-foot operation for a small grow.
“We do all LED and we’ve had phenomenal results,” he said.
Keliy went forward with the LED buildout despite naysayers who tried to discourage the decision. The grow was intended to supplement the dispensary so Keliy could take advantage of the glut of product throughout the state.
“We get to be very selective and pick from all over the state,” he said. “We get to be choosey. I think that is one of the secrets to the quality that we’re known for.”