WORDS : ERIC FRUITS , PH.D.
Much of Southern Oregon sits at the northern tip of the Emerald Triangle, one of the nation’s best marijuana growing regions. The climate is ideal for growing cannabis. The growing season extends into fall and the long warm summers bring little or no rain.
Oregon produces such high yields that state senator Ted Ferrioli once noted that the state is the “Saudia Arabia of marijuana.” An Oregon State University researcher estimates the state production is three to five times higher than state consumption. That means a large share of Oregon’s marijuana crop is being sent out of state.
Sam Chapman, cofounder of New Economy Consulting, a Portland firm specializing in the marijuana industry, told VICE News, “I’d guess 80 percent of all product in Oregon is, unfortunately, leaving the state.” The Oregon State Police’s drug enforcement division identifies Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Florida as statistically significant destinations for Oregon-grown cannabis.
Recent research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that a large share of retail recreational marijuana is diverted out of the state in which it’s sold.
The diversion of marijuana from states that have legalized cannabis sales to states that have not, has caught the attention of the U.S. Attorney General’s office. The AG sent Oregon Governor Kate Brown a letter in July 2017 reminding her that marijuana is a federally controlled substance and the federal government intends to enforce the federal laws.
Public opinion in favor of medical use and recreational use for adults continues to grow. Also, new studies are showing that opioid deaths are down in states with medical marijuana markets.
In the U.S. Congress, the Washington Post reports strong majorities who have voiced support for at least some form of change to the nation’s marijuana laws: 270 representatives and 60 senators have indicated they at least support the right of states set their own cannabis policies.
Until then, states that don’t choose to legalize weed can expect to deal with Oregon’s fast growing export of marijuana.