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With Senate Approval, Oregon Looks Forward to Interstate Cannabis Commerce

Oregon on Brink of Interstate Cannabis Commerce
PHOTO Philip Steffan

Economics

With Senate Approval, Oregon Looks Forward to Interstate Cannabis Commerce

Oregon’s climate and history have made for a crop of excessively proficient cannabis producers. Now, a new bill should provide relief for a flooded market.

Since Oregon legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, the state’s government has been distinctly pot-friendly… maybe even a little too pot-friendly. But the state, which legalized medical cannabis 1998 and decriminalized small-time possession in 1978, is now attempting to pass more pioneering legislation and write into law the ability to import and export cannabis between states.

A climate naturally suited for cannabis, a back-history of illicit market cultivation and the warm embrace of the “free market” by some of its more conservative politicians have proven to be a recipe for excess up in the Beaver State. Oregon literally has more legally grown cannabis than they can sell to consumers, to the tune of six or seven years’ worth of excess product — especially given the fact that the state also has relatively lax homegrow laws.

Temporary fixes like licensing freezes were enacted, but prices still plummeted and illicit market participation rose in response.

Now, Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill that would allow its governor to enter trade agreements with neighboring states that have also legalized recreational cannabis for the purposes of importing or — much more likely — exporting the state’s oversupply of “marijuana items” to other compliant entities.

A Boon for Cannabusiness

According to Marijuana Moment, the bill would require the implementation of a tracking system and a strict adherence to transporting the cannabis via roads rather than via air travel. 

Now, the bill is on Gov. Kate Brown’s desk, where it is anticipated that she will sign it into law.

Industry members and state legislators alike expressed their approval of the bill as a release value for the building pressure on cannabis industry members within state confines by granting producers access to out-of-state markets.

“This is a major statement by the Oregon Legislature, that says we understand the future of this industry and Oregon’s place in it,” Adam J. Smith, the Craft Cannabis Alliance’s executive director, told the Associated Press.

Lawmakers expressed similar desires to stay ahead of federal cannabis policy and capitalize on their state’s unique position in the marketplace. “The trend is toward the normalization and the mainstreaming of cannabis across much of our country,” Rep. Rob Nosse told fellow lawmakers prior to voting on the bill, according to the Associated Press. Nosse later compared the cannabis market to Oregon’s craft beer and wine producers, while bill sponsor Senator Floyd Prozanski likened the relationship between Oregon and cannabis to Kentucky and bourbon.

The main catch is that this bill won’t be effective until the federal government either legalizes cannabis or specifically authorizes interstate cannabis commerce, but Oregon legislators, like everyone else in the industry, are banking on that day coming sooner versus later.

Until then, Oregon’s elected officials have made other moves to make their pot producers as comfortable as possible, with an eye towards normalization. The state’s treasury department recently announced an expansion of its auto-enrollment retirement program to include workers in the cannabis industry.

And the state Senate also approved an amended bill that will establish a means through which Oregonians with cannabis convictions can have their records expunged.

TELL US, do you think growers should be allowed to transport cannabis across state lines?

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