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Oregon Cannabis Export Bill Gets Hearing, and a Warning

A bill that would create the possibility of Oregon exporting cannabis to adjacent states where the product is also legal has had its first public hearing.

Posted: Feb 7, 2019 3:42 PM
Updated: Feb 7, 2019 5:18 PM

By ANDREW SELSKY , Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A bill that would create the possibility of Oregon exporting marijuana to adjacent states where cannabis is also legal had its first public hearing Thursday, where advocates said it would give Oregon a way to relieve its oversupply and grow its brand.

Separately, the U.S. attorney for Oregon warned against it.

There is little expectation that Senate Bill 582 , if passed by the Legislature, would soon open marijuana commerce between Oregon and California, Nevada and Washington, the three states contiguous to Oregon where it is legal.

But some advocates see it as a way to start laying groundwork for when the federal government either decriminalizes marijuana or decides not to prosecute if pot-legal states export to each other.

One advocate suggested going even further, since several countries, including Canada and Uruguay, have legalized marijuana.

"I would like to see an amendment that would allow international agreements in this bill, if federal law allows, so Oregon can cash in immediately without having to wait for the next legislative session," Sarah Duff, spokeswoman for several pro-marijuana groups, said in testimony to the Senate judiciary committee.

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams told The Associated Press on Thursday that the bill does not change the fact that transporting marijuana across state lines is a federal crime.

"This bill is an attempt to remedy the rampant overproduction and trafficking of marijuana outside of Oregon," Williams said in an emailed statement. He complained about the negative impacts of the marijuana industry on public health, minors and the environment.

But Steve Marks, director of Oregon's recreational marijuana regulatory agency, said Oregon farmers have produced "copious amounts of cannabis" for generations and that the illegal export of pot has been taking place "for decades."

"Oregon is not creating a new industry, it is converting an illegal cannabis production economy, and a loosely-regulated medical program, into a well-regulated legal market," Marks wrote in a Jan. 31 letter to stakeholders.

Marks, the director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, said the state is "at a crossroads where our state's history with marijuana and the future of cannabis commercialization meet."

Rep. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, a co-sponsor of the export bill, said experts believe legalization of marijuana could come fairly soon, and that his measure anticipates that.

"It puts Oregon in the status of being ready to trade in this legal product," Helm told the judiciary committee.

Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday she also sees the bill as a way to position Oregon for that possible future period of legalized weed.

"I think folks are trying to make sure that Oregon is well placed in terms of the industry if and when — I would say when — the federal government moves forward," Brown said. She told reporters the first priority should be making sure the marijuana industry has access to the federal banking system.

Growers harvested more than 2.5 million pounds (1.1 million kilograms) of cannabis in October. Prices for marijuana in Oregon have dropped by half since December 2016, a symptom of the oversupply in inventories in the legal, regulated system.

Amid a backlog of thousands of applications for marijuana producers, processors and retailers, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in June paused processing of recreational marijuana licenses. Already there are 2,100 licensees.

Another bill, printed by order of Brown, would authorize the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to refuse to issue marijuana production licenses based on market demand and other relevant factors.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 3967

Reported Deaths: 148
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah105258
Marion91425
Washington69817
Clackamas29610
Deschutes1200
Linn1159
Umatilla1123
Polk9610
Lane672
Yamhill667
Jackson600
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath410
Coos310
Malheur280
Josephine251
Douglas250
Jefferson240
Wasco181
Columbia160
Hood River120
Morrow120
Lincoln90
Tillamook60
Crook60
Curry60
Union60
Wallowa20
Sherman10
Grant10
Harney10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99387

Reported Deaths: 3819
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles478452145
Riverside7139303
San Diego6797249
Orange5578131
San Bernardino4567176
Alameda298693
Santa Clara2675139
San Francisco239940
San Mateo190482
Kern187629
Tulare177179
Santa Barbara155112
Fresno148222
Contra Costa135337
Imperial135224
Sacramento131056
Ventura91230
San Joaquin77133
Kings6882
Stanislaus65928
Sonoma5154
Solano45520
Monterey4298
Marin41714
Merced2687
San Luis Obispo2631
Santa Cruz2002
Yolo19822
Placer1889
Napa1093
Humboldt942
Madera852
El Dorado780
San Benito762
Sutter422
Nevada411
Butte400
Del Norte400
Shasta364
Mono341
Yuba281
Mendocino220
Inyo191
Mariposa161
Lake140
Calaveras140
Glenn120
Amador100
Siskiyou61
Colusa50
Plumas40
Lassen40
Tuolumne30
Tehama31
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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