Oregon pot growers want to export excess weed
Oregon's Legislature will consider a bill in its 2019 session which will look to take down the initial barrier toward exporting legal cannabis from the state.
The federal government would still need to allow marijuana to be sent across state lines. Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug federally.
"We want to get to the point where we have states ready and willing to make transfers," said Adam Smith, the director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance.
A similar bill has previously failed to clear the Legislature, but Sen. Ginny Burdick anticipates it'll do better this go-round.
"I thought back then it may be a bit cart before the horse," Burdick said. "We were still working on setting up our own legal market, but now I think is the right time."
Oregon cannabis growers have an excess of weed. Overproduction has led to a dramatic drop in prices and industry experts say the market is so saturated, businesses are losing money.
"The cannabis industry is in crisis," Smith said. "We have a tremendous oversupply problem. The irony is there's a market for this product all over the country."
Smith says Oregon allowing its growers to ship marijuana across state lines would put pressure on the federal government to allow it.
"How can we move that forward more quickly. Federal prohibition is crumbling, but it could take years before that is totally finished," Smith said.
The Craft Cannabis Alliance has set the goal of exporting pot by 2020.
"The long game is interstate commerce," said Matt Walstatter, owner of Pure Green dispensary. "It's a real struggle. People are competing for a very limited market share and businesses are going under."
Smith warns that if cannabis can't be sent out of Oregon to other legal states soon, big business fueled by out-of-state money will buy up the existing businesses in Oregon, cutting down on the economic benefit of cannabis in the state.
"We will have low-wage employees here and the actual profits will be leaving to go to boards of directors in Canada or Texas," Smith said.
Walstatter says if the Legislature takes down the first barrier, it's a nice step, but he knows the federal government de-scheduling pot is the biggest hurdle.
"The more that our state government is behind us and supporting us and advocating for this kind of thing, I think the sooner that we can get that federal movement," Walsttater said.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, in a statement to KATU News said, "It is vital Oregon's cannabis businesses be able to sell their products in other legal states. It is important that we get this right, and I'm committed to doing that."