While the overall numbers show a booming Oregon cannabis industry, with record sales and tax revenue creating thousands of jobs, when you look closer you see a major flaw that plague just about every industry-local small businesses pushed out of the market by bigger interests. Adam Smith of the Craft Cannabis Alliance wants to help save the local mom-and-pop businesses by legalizing cannabis commerce across state lines. The CCA has started a campaign called “One Fix Cannabis” to accomplish this goal. I’m pleased to be moderating “The Future of the Oregon Cannabis Industry” panel that includes Adam at the International Cannabis Business Conference this Friday, September 28th.
“Every month that we don’t open up a market, another local business goes out of business. Thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of Oregon capital are at risk,” Adam told me. “One Fix Cannabis will help accomplish some very important things: reduce oversupply and diversion to the illicit market; increase revenue for cash-strapped Oregon counties; and save jobs and capital while creating more jobs and generating more revenue.”
“Here’s how we accomplish the goal, step by step: we pass a bill that makes it legal for the Oregon governor to approve out-of-state transfers; make the need for exports a statewide and national news story; find partners, such as Nevada and New York, that are willing to have the conversation publicly; and pressure the federal government, but we can’t wait on the feds,” Adam continued.
The Willamette Week covered Smith’s campaign to move forward on exports, reporting that local growers were understandably intrigued by the idea:
“We legalized cannabis, but the only people making a living in the cannabis industry are the ones who decided not to get licenses,” says Smith, director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance. “A licensed transfer into another legal state isn’t radical. There is no faster way to incentivize growers to transition from the black market to the legal, regulated market than legalizing export.”
Smith and the CCA are rallying support from cannabis businesses in anticipation of the upcoming legislative session., a campaign Smith is calling One Fix Cannabis. After a career in drug policy reform in Washington, D.C., Smith can see a trajectory that makes export legislation a real possibility within two years. He also sees this as the tipping point for the producers that are barely hanging on. A recent gathering at Coalition Brewing in Southeast Portland saw the brewery’s patio packed with growers eager to learn more.
Even without a change in federal law, Smith has called upon US Attorney Billy Williams to refuse to prosecute state-licensed cannabis exports in an op-ed published by The Oregonian:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans favor regulated markets. And, with more states soon to go legal, state-to-state transfer of cannabis is inevitable. But even now there is no good reason to prosecute licensed interstate transfers — other than to maintain the fiction of prohibition in a region of the country that has already moved beyond it. Particularly if those transfers can be accomplished without crossing through unregulated states.
Oregon’s U.S. Attorney does not have the authority to change federal law, nor can he tell other U.S. attorneys what to do. But Williams does have broad prosecutorial discretion, and an important opportunity to show leadership.
Making state-recognized transfers a low priority would set an important precedent that could lead to significant progress on every one of the important priorities he has outlined. It could also have a tremendously beneficial impact on Oregon’s economic future.
Personally, I think that Adam and the Craft Cannabis Alliance are onto something important. I’ve chipped in for the cause, and anyone concerned about the craft cannabis industry in any locality should donate as well. Cannabis commerce across state and international borders benefits everyone. I look forward to talking with Adam about cannabis exports, cannabis cafes, and other future changes for the Oregon cannabis industry at the ICBC this Friday and beyond.
The International Cannabis Business Conference kicks off with a VIP reception on Thursday, September 27th, before the conference program begins on the morning of Friday the 28th. Following the ICBC conference, there will be an afterparty headlined by DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill. Get your tickets today!