Capital Press headline: Oregon’s marijuana law has created questions that have landed in the laps of the Legislature and the courts, which will be sorting through them until further notice.
Published on August 10, 2017 8:24AM
Last changed on August 10, 2017 3:29PM
When Oregon voters approved an initiative to make marijuana legal under state law — but not federal law — they should have expected it to create as many questions as it answered.
- The state may be able to regulate growers and sellers under the registration system, but how does it regulate the black market, which feeds off legal marijuana?
- How does the state prevent barely regulated medical marijuana growers from selling their “extra” production on the black market?
- How does the state reconcile federal law, which specifies that marijuana is illegal, with the state law?
- Is marijuana production included in the state’s Right to Farm law?
- Where do water rights and the laws relating to water use start and stop for marijuana growers?
For farmers, the last two questions are especially pertinent. Our guess is not many voters considered the right to farm and water use when casting their ballot for the ability to smoke pot.
Now those and other questions have landed in the laps of the Legislature and the courts, which will be sorting through them until further notice.
It’s a great time to be a lawyer in Oregon.
We were never fond of an initiative that would partially legalize recreational marijuana and partially regulate medical marijuana.
The loopholes in that new law are big enough to drive a 1964 Volkswagen mini-bus painted with day-glow flowers through.
In the meantime, 2,788 growers, processors and sellers are taking a chance on recreational marijuana as a crop in Oregon.
Multnomah County, which includes Portland, has 496 applications pending as of July 27. Interestingly, Jackson and Josephine counties, with a combined population that’s only 37 percent the size of Multnomah’s, have 649 applications pending. One wonders whether that marijuana production is destined solely for the Oregon market.
If you consider only producers, 685 are now licensed by the state and more than 800 have applications pending.
At $800 to $1,200 a pound on the market, marijuana will continue to attract a lot of interest, among both legitimate operators and others who seek to take advantage of the loopholes in Oregon’s poorly written law.
If it isn’t already, Oregon will soon be awash in marijuana. The state already grows about five times as much marijuana as can realistically be smoked here, according to Rep. Carl Wilson, a Grants Pass Republican who is vice chairman of the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation.
That leaves many Oregonians scratching their heads about the problem they created.
The failure to properly regulate marijuana is further proof that the initiative process in Oregon is wide open to interesting concepts that lack the full vetting the legislative process provides.
The result is laws that fail the public.
At best, the Capital Press editorial from August 10th, 2017 showed your publisher’s fear of new crops and bigotry toward a small number of farmers. At worst, CP’s editorial board is fear-mongering, attempting without facts to incite readers toward fear, hatred and action against the small number of small-scale farmers who grow cannabis as part or all of their rotation. A photo of our farm accompanies your false claims and innuendo, but I do not share your fear.
Some points I take issue with:
1) You complain about Oregon’s initiative process and compare it to the legislative process, when in truth, the content is what you do not like. You neglect to point out that the initiative must be translated into regulation, and that regulation is continually revised and updated through legislation.
2) You present the number of farmers who are licensed as producers, with no comparison to the number of farmers total in Oregon; in reality, the number of OLCC-licensed producers is vanishingly small compared to the total number of folks in Oregon file Schedule Fs.
3) Tell me who is getting $800-$1200 per pound for their flowers? I need to tell them they should be getting more like $2400 per pound!
4) You repeat Carl Wilson’s claim regarding the amount of cannabis produced in Oregon versus the amount consumed without presenting any evidence. No attempt seems to have been made to verify this number.
5) “Day-glo flowers painted on a VW minibus”? Really? I drive a 1993 Isuzu NPR box truck or a white 1998 Dodge Ram 2500. Stereotypes are only useful when you are trying to incite your supporters; it does not work to convince regular Oregonians, and especially Oregon farmers.
Of what are you afraid? I have some ideas:
1) Successful farmers who don’t follow your advice and are not afraid to think for themselves.
2) Pesticide testing. Right now, every cannabis harvest is tested for the presence and quantity of 60 different pesticides, both chemical and organic-approved. I bet you can imagine the fall-out from requiring all farm products to pass pesticide testing before sale. Your advertisers would lose their market share.
3) Farmers in METRO. A farm base in Oregon’s urban areas are not going to be swayed by your arguments against wolves, hippies, or success.
4) Small-scale profitable farming. If Oregon can produce farm products on a small-fraction of its farmland base, we can convert those extra acres to affordable housing or re-wilded to forest or meadow or estuary. Scary!
I submitted this reply as a letter to the editor. I doubt they will publish it, so here it is. The “five-to-seven times more cannabis grown that consumed” number appears to be from an invalidated draft report by the Oregon State Patrol that they’ve just denounced, with support from Governor Kate Brown.
Growin’ it in the ground! Getting big!