Rows of Cannabis plants growing at East Fork Cultivars in Cave Junction, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of East Fork Cultivars via Facebook
The state’s cannabis farms have been massively underregulated, causing overproduction and a booming black market.
The Oregon Health Authority, the regulator for the state’s medical marijuana program, has no idea how much legal weed the state is producing, according to a report released by state health officials this month.
The Associated Press reports that an internal review of Oregon’s legal marijuana tracking and licensing process was ordered when law enforcement officials indicated that they couldn’t identify which grow ops were operating legally and which were not.
Since voters chose to legalize recreational cannabis in 2014, the state’s medical marijuana market has been swallowed up by the recreational one, with a significant portion of medical dispensaries closing.
In April, reports of Oregon’s recreational growers allegedly producing more than 1 million pounds of unsold flower set off alarm bells for state authorities who worried that Beaver State cannabis would make it into the black market as farmers struggled to offload their product to overstocked dispensaries.
Yet the report, released on June 12th, indicates that some of the reporting on overproduction may have been overblown as Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Program does not have the resources or the manpower to accurately gauge how much legal marijuana is actually being produced.
“Potentially erroneous reporting coupled with low reporting compliance makes it difficult to accurately track how much product is in the medical system,” the report states. “This limits OMMP’s ability to successfully identify and address potential diversion.”
But if you follow the money, one thing is for sure: Oregon has a lot more weed than its regulators can handle. This time last year, farmers were able to offload a pound of weed for $1,500. This summer that price has dropped to $700 a pound.
That surplus caused the US Attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, to announce a crackdown in May focused on curbing out of state smuggling and has also prompted other states to take preemptive measures to contain their markets.