Oregon Is Reportedly Producing Three Times The Amount Of Marijuana Than It Can Consume

Oregon Is Reportedly Producing Three Times The Amount Of Marijuana Than It Can Consume
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Updated 6 months ago

In 2014, the state of Oregon legalized the use of recreational cannabis. Since then, nearly 500 dispensaries have been licensed, and another 250 have licenses pending. U.S. Attorney Billy Williams believes the state is producing far too much marijuana — some estimate Oregon is currently growing three times as much as it can legally consume. Williams reported his fears at a summit attended by other U.S. attorneys, plus representatives from various federal bureau's that track and process marijuana (the Postal Service, Customs, etc.)

Williams commented to the gathered officials:

Here's what I know in terms of the landscape here in Oregon and that is, we have an identifiable and formidable marijuana overproduction and diversion problem. Make no mistake about it, we are going to do something about it.

Williams' gravest concern is that individuals in Oregon, producing far more cannabis than they can legally sell, will turn to the black market to make a profit. This fear isn't completely unfounded: Pot grown in Oregon has been seized in 16 other states (where recreational use of the drug is still illegal). The postal service has intercepted 2,600 pounds of weed and $1.2 million in related cash.

Some disagree with Williams, however. Advocates for legalization claim that the surplus of marijuana hasn't caused a spike in black market sales, but has instead made legalized cannabis easier to track. 

Leland Berger, an attorney who specializes in cannbis-related incidents, commented:

When I moved to Oregon in 1979, cannabis was a billion-dollar crop then, so the notion that this is somehow caused by legalization or by the medical program is something that's misplaced.

But Seth Crawford, a former professor at Oregon State University, seemed to agree with Williams:

If you were an investor and you had just dropped $4m into a [marijuana] grow and you had thousands of pounds of flower that was ready to go but you had nowhere to sell it, the only thing you can do is sell it on the black market. It was a system designed for failure. You created this huge industry that has nowhere to put its product.

The use of medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 1998. The issue of possible illegal exporting to other states has become more prominent in the government's mind since the Trump administration began cracking down on illegal cannabis use. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently withdrew a memo, distributed by the Obama administration, that told states who had legalized marijuana how to "avoid federal scrutiny." 

This battle is sure to continue for quite a while.