Oregon Marijuana Audit: Every little thing is All Messed Up and Also Just Fine

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Time to kick back and think about Oregon cannabis.

On January 31, the Oregon Secretary of State released an audit of Oregon marijuana regulation. The audit is a hefty 37 pages, but its core findings are listed correct there on the cover sheet: “Oregon’s framework for regulating marijuana need to be strengthened to far better mitigate diversion danger and increase laboratory testing.” Now: we would all like to see significantly less diversion and far better testing, but these findings are not specifically surprising. And no 1 need to anticipate large fixes anytime quickly.

Under is some straight speak about the audit’s two main conclusions, and a handful of thoughts about exactly where factors are headed.

  1. Considerably of the health-related marketplace is a black marketplace and diversion is unstoppable at this time.

The Oregon Health-related Marijuana Act (OMMA) was passed more than 20 years ago, in 1998. As we explained a handful of years back, OMMA was (and is) tiny much more than an affirmative defense for designated marijuana possessors and distributers from state criminal prosecution, and from federal hassles to the extent probable. These are commendable ambitions, but the system in no way produced sense from a industrial point of view. Hence, the Oregon Wellness Authority (OHA) has normally located itself in the unenviable position of struggling to create guidelines about legislation that creates a marketplace though ignoring the marketplace itself.

When the legislature did choose to shepherd the primitive marketplace, it did so in fits and begins. It took seven years to place a develop website registry with each other, and fifteen years for dispensary licensing. Heck, even the initially develop website inspections (and there haven’t been quite a few) didn’t take place till 2016. All of this was toothpicks and BAND-AIDS. And all the though, quite a few individuals produced funds trading in the “medical” marketplace. Did a lot of that weed and money make its way across the nation? You bet.

Even if Oregon have been to comply with the audit suggestions, having said that, and ramp up funding for inspections and enforcement in each the OHA and OLCC (adult use) applications, there are inherent and properly documented limits to provide-side efforts when it comes to federally controlled substances. Oregon can invest heavily in maintaining its cannabis below seal, but its power would be far better focused on federal lobbying to de- or reschedule marijuana below the federal Controlled Substances Act, or even on longshot options like promotion of interstate marijuana exchanges.

The state need to also continue to push health-related marijuana regulation, such as enforcement, into the OLCC purview. The audit briefly suggests as a lot, and we’ve been speaking about that forever on this weblog. It is not such a political quagmire any longer, specially as much more overlap comes with every legislative session. The basic query is this: why have a income raising agency and a overall health authority each concentrate on intensive regulation of the identical plant, specially when each are below-supported? It does not make a lot of sense.

Lastly, here’s the portion that administrators, legislators and even executive branch actors are not saying out loud: leakage into interstate commerce genuinely does not matter at this point, specially if the state is operating its research and generating token efforts to quit it. There may perhaps be some federal enforcement against black marketplace actors (which is good), but no 1 is shutting these state applications down. In 2019, cannabis leakage exerts much more stress on the feds to uncover legislative options than enforcement ones.

  1. Testing is a challenging concern, but much more fixable.

Back in the day, when OHA initially began licensing dispensaries, there have been no actual guidelines about testing. Individuals would take weed to labs with inadequate gear and inconsistent practices. They would leave with unreliable final results. In 2016, when OHA started accrediting the initially laboratories for the health-related and adult use (OLCC) markets, not quite a few of them signed up. In the OLCC marketplace, this meant bottlenecks for an extended period.

Presently, all cannabis generating its way to retail sale is tested much more strictly than other agricultural crops, but health-related marijuana outdoors that channel ordinarily goes untested (unless the flower is processed by a health-related marijuana processor, which is quite niche). That is a shame mainly because health-related marijuana sufferers are the ones who would advantage from testing the most: quite a few of these people have situations like cancer and HIV that straight compromise their immune systems. And roughly 10% of Oregon’s health-related marijuana patient neighborhood incorporates kids below 18 years of age and seniors more than 70.

As far as testing problems that have an effect on our business consumers (OLCC organizations and financiers) the audit recommends expanding testing needs to screen for microbiological and heavy metal testing, and it promotes “shelf audits” at dispensaries. In theory, these measures could drive up fees along the provide chain, but we wouldn’t anticipate a lot variance. Altogether, the testing push is much more about guarding vulnerable people in Oregon, such as individuals in restricted, patient-caregiver relationships. We can get behind that.

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