Lawmakers in the US state of Oregon are now trying to slow down the production of marijuana because they have too much of the stuff.
It’s been five years since they legalised the production and sale of the drug, but they are now concerned the surplus could end up on the black market.
There are currently 1,136 licensed recreational growers in Oregon. But they aren’t the only sources of the drug in the state, medical growers, home growers, as well as the illegal market, provide the rest.
Because of the growing problem, last year the U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon announced that curbing interstate trafficking was his top cannabis priority.
In January, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission claimed there was enough recreational cannabis sat on dispensary shelves, in warehouses to last six years.
Oregon is witnessing a surplus of cannabis. Credit: PA
According to reports, while states such as Washington limit the level of production, Oregon has made it easier for growers.
At first, in a bid to persuade illegal businesses to move over to the new system, the state’s lawmakers didn’t set a cap on licenses. Fees for a plot of land are also pretty low; starting at $1,000 for a 2,500-square-foot outdoor patch or a 625-square-foot indoor one.
And for the past three years, those wanting to get in on the action haven’t even had to live in the state to get a licence.
Vice president and senior economist for New Frontier Data – a company that studies cannabis – Beau Whitney, said: “They underestimated the number of people that would be willing to convert to the legal market or would want to participate in the legal market.”
Adam Orens, co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Group, added: “The biggest policy lesson you can take from this is: understand the existing cannabis market.”
An indoor cannabis grow. Credit: PA
Policymakers are trying to deal with the surplus, however. Earlier this year, Oregon brought in legislation that would allow regulators to restrict the number of production licences being issued when supply surpassed demand.
It is also trying to give growers the ability to sell interstate, but this has so far been blocked at a federal level.
However, there has been support from some politicians. Just last month, senators Ron Wyden and Earl Blumenauer proposed a bill that would allow the sale of cannabis between states where its production was legal.
Reports claim problems in Oregon go much deeper, as the state has a long history of illegal grows.
Founder of The Craft Cannabis Alliance, Adam Smith calls the state the ’emerald region’ due to the long, dry growing seasons and that before legalisation was introduced, illegal interstate sales of weed.
TJ Sheehy, a data analyst for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s marijuana program, said: “When the system was getting set up in Oregon – it wasn’t really launching a brand new market, it was transitioning an underground, unregulated market into an above-ground, regulated one.”
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