Oregon cannabis businesses producing more marijuana consumers purchase continues to make headlines and the so-called “oversupply problem” has drawn the ire of Billy Williams, the United States Attorney for Oregon. Williams released a memo detailing his law enforcement priorities for cannabis in Oregon after Attorney General Jeff Sessions repealed the Obama administration’s enforcement policy that provided states leeway to move forward with regulated systems. The memo, in many ways, is a restatement of previous federal policy, but Williams makes clear that he won’t provide “blanket immunity” to anyone violating federal law and that he has concerns about the “significant overproduction of marijuana in Oregon.” While the amount of cannabis produced in Oregon is an issue, especially for the bottom line of growers, the solution is simple-end federal prohibition and allow Oregon producers to export across state and international borders.
As The Oregonian’s Noelle Crombie reported, US Attorney Williams would like to see a cap on the number of cannabis business licenses issued by the state:
Williams said he also has told the governor’s senior policy adviser on marijuana, Jeff Rhoades, that he’d like to see limits on licenses for marijuana producers and retailers. He said Rhoades has told him that officials want to encourage black market operators to enter the legal arena.
“I don’t understand that thinking,” Williams said, “because that is not occurring.”
Oregon’s top federal prosecutor isn’t alone in wanting a limit on the number of licenses for marijuana producers and retailers as there are plenty of current licensees that would love to see a cap as the laws of supply and demand have led to a cannabis consumer’s paradise and tough times for many businesses. Oregon has been a hotbed of cannabis cultivation long before voters passed the Measure 91 legalization law in 2014 and the state will continue to be a cannabis hotbed even if a cap of licenses is implemented by state regulators.
While Oregon has plenty of cannabis, other states like New Jersey do not, and there are legal systems around the world like Germany that could utilize Oregon-grown cannabis. As the Craft Cannabis Alliance’s Adam Smith penned in the Portland Business Journal, ending prohibition will provide the outlet for regulated cannabis cultivators and the political momentum is behind legalization:
Allowing the market to efficiently allocate resources among legal states would quickly and significantly reduce the size of the illicit market on the west coast and nationally by eliminating diversion, incentivizing licensure among illicit producers, and keeping consumers priced into the regulated market.
It will also save hundreds of small companies, thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions in investment capital.
Over the past three weeks, President Trump announced his support for legislation protecting legal cannabis industries. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he will sponsor legislation to de-schedule cannabis. Sen. Bernie Sanders became the third 2020 Democratic hopeful to co-sponsor Sen. Cory Booker‘s Marijuana Justice Act. John Boehner, former Republican Speaker of the House, joined the board of a cannabis company, for which he will lobby. And a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 61 percent of voters in Texas of all placesnow support legalization.
Since Smith’s piece was published on May 2nd, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley joined fellow Oregonian Ron Wyden in co-sponsoring Sen. Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, along with Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand. When I started my cannabis law reform activism in college about 20 years ago (yes I’m old), I hoped to see a legalized state by the year 2020, it is amazing to see that supporting cannabis legalization is now a common political position for 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. With Donald Trump agreeing to a cannabis states’ rights deal with Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, the odds of the United States ending prohibition in the near future are much greater than ending the “overproduction” of cannabis in Oregon.
Canada is leading the way by ending prohibition across the country and exporting to other nations. The United States should follow our northern neighbor’s lead and encourage the rest of the world to follow. The U.S. has pushed the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition and it is high time (pun intended) that Uncle Sam steps up to correct the racist, misguided policy that has caused too much harm for too long. There isn’t an overproduction problem in Oregon, or anywhere, there is a prohibition problem. Thankfully, the solution is closer than ever before.
You can learn more about Canada’s pioneering cannabis law at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, this June 24th and 25th. Get your tickets soon before the event sells out. The ICBC will return to where it started in 2014 by traveling back to Portland, Oregon, on September 27th to the 28th. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the latest and network with top activists, entrepreneurs, and investors from around the world.