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Oregon preparing for possible interstate pot commerce

With an eye toward making Oregon as big in pot as it is in craft brews and pinot noir, the state House passed a bill Tuesday that would empower the governor to enter agreements with other states for the transfer of marijuana.

Posted: Jun 12, 2019 12:01 PM
Updated: Jun 12, 2019 5:13 PM

By ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With an eye toward making Oregon as big in pot as it is in craft brews and pinot noir, the state House passed a bill Tuesday that would empower the governor to enter agreements with other states for the transfer of marijuana.

The 43-16 vote came after the leader of minority Republicans urged passage of the Democrat-sponsored bill, noting the measure would set up Oregon to provide pot if the U.S. government ever permits interstate sales.

"The federal stance toward states with legal cannabis could change quickly, through congressional action or something as simple as a memo from the Department of Justice," said Republican Rep. Carl Wilson, who represents Grants Pass in a prime marijuana-growing area.

Illinois is set to become the 11th state to allow recreational marijuana use after lawmakers there passed a bill on May 31 that the governor has backed. A total of 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

The Oregon Senate previously passed the interstate sales bill. It now goes to Gov. Kate Brown for consideration. The Democrat has been a vocal supporter of Oregon's marijuana industry.

With its mild, moist climate and rich soil, Oregon has a long history of pot growing, but a limited market. Of its population of 4 million, around 20 percent are regular marijuana users, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Supply is running twice as high as demand, meaning the surplus from last year's harvest alone could amount to roughly 2.3 million pounds of pot.

The bill is intended to address the biggest hurdle Oregon's legal marijuana industry faces — the inability to access other legal markets, said Adam J. Smith, executive director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance industry group.

"This is a major statement by the Oregon Legislature, that says we understand the future of this industry and Oregon's place in it," Smith said in an interview.

Rep. Rob Nosse, a Portland Democrat, urged passage of the bill as he stood next to a pot plant perched on his desk.

"The trend is toward the normalization and the mainstreaming of cannabis across much of our country," Nosse told fellow lawmakers. He said Oregon's inability to legally export its pot to other states would be like Florida being unable to sell its oranges across state lines.

He said Oregon's craft beer and wine producers have shown they can compete in the big leagues, and cannabis can do the same.

Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene, who sponsored the bill, said he was looking forward to a time when the federal government would legalize interstate sales or say it would tolerate the practice.

"We will kind of be like what bourbon is to Kentucky," he said.

The measure is part of a strategy to deal with Oregon's huge pot surplus and prevent diversion of unsold legal marijuana into the black market.

Another bill passed on May 30 gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission more leeway to deny new pot-growing licenses, based on supply and demand.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 5061240

Reported Deaths: 74159
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152548627128
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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