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ONTARIO, Ore. — When Brandon St. Germain got in line to apply for a marijuana dispensary license in this town of 11,000 people along the Idaho border in November 2018, he brought armed guards.

“We’re talking ex-military veterans,” St. Germain said. “They’re standing there with M-16s. They’ve got bulletproof vests on; they’ve got pistols on their hip.”

He had his reasons for the extraordinary security precautions: No one quite knew how many pot shops could ultimately be permitted, making his spot worth millions of dollars in potential sales.

That’s because this small agricultural town — best known for Ore-lda’s creation of the tater tot in the 1950s  is just a 50-minute drive from Boise, Idaho. It sits at the edge of the Treasure Valley, where more than 700,000 people — 40 percent of Idaho’s population — reside.

Marijuana remains illegal in Idaho. In fact, it is one of only two states left in the nation that bans all forms of cannabis, including hemp and CBD products. But drive across the border into Oregon, and Idahoans can purchase every conceivable type of cannabis product, from THC infused artisan grape taffy to 1.5 gram pre-rolled joints.

In the year and a half since Ontario began allowing weed sales, nine dispensaries have opened. It’s estimated that the city will generate $120 to $130 million in annual sales when the cannabis industry is fully up and running — that’s more than 10 percent of Oregon’s sales in 2020.