The state of Oregon has passed groundbreaking legislation that could make their marijuana industry the strongest in the nation. Senate Bill 582 permits the export of Oregon-grown cannabis to other legal cannabis states.
This is a huge deal for Oregon’s cannabis industry for a few reasons. For starters, the ability to export cannabis will allow Oregon to manage, and profit from, their massive marijuana surplus.
The state’s cannabis industry produces over two million pounds of weed per year, but according to the Oregon-Idaho Drug Trafficking Area report, the in-state demand is only between 186,100 to 273,600 pounds. That’s a ton of excess cannabis just sitting around collecting dust. Once the bill is fully passed, Oregon can establish export deals to sell, tax, and profit from that excess cannabis.
Now that this legislation has passed, only two potential roadblocks are left before Oregon can export their cannabis: Governor Kate Brown and the federal government.
Thankfully for Oregon cannabis supporters, Governor Brown has been a marijuana advocate and ally. She has not been afraid to put her signature on cannabis bills in the past and has publicly vowed to protect the state’s thriving cannabis industry. It is presumed that Gov. Brown will sign this bill as well.
Working out an agreement with the federal government for exporting cannabis across state borders might be a more complicated task.
What does the federal government have to do with cannabis exports?
Since cannabis is unfairly classified as a Schedule 1 drug, exporting any marijuana products across state lines is considered a federal crime. This law holds true even when transporting cannabis into other legal states.
The simplest solution would be to legalize cannabis at the national level, a move that a large majority of Americans support. However, progress on that front is slow. For Oregon to export cannabis, they’ll need to navigate both federal and state law.
Currently, many states with legalized marijuana have legislation that specifically forbids cannabis imports or exports. For example, current Nevada law says it is illegal to “import, transport, sell, exchange, barter, supply, prescribe, dispense, give away or administer a controlled or counterfeit substance.” Similarly, California doesn’t “authorize or permit a licensee to transport or distribute, or cause to be transported or distributed, marijuana or marijuana products outside the state, unless authorized by federal law.”
For this bill to work, Oregon will need to find a middle ground between these federal and state laws. While this may sound tedious and complicated, lawmakers like Oregon’s Representative Carl Wilson think this legislation is the first step towards a brighter future for cannabis.
“This bill is a strategic business approach,” Wilson said. “It correctly assesses the industry’s strengths and foresees a time when export turns Oregon’s oversupply in a constrained market into a traded commodity in a national marketplace.”
While exports may not start happening quite yet, the momentum is building. Progress is on the horizon for the continued legalization of cannabis across the nation.