Reports claim that much of the marijuana black market in the United States is fueled by Oregon cannabis.
Before cannabis legalization, Oregon was one of the most prominent origin points for black market cannabis across the country. Recently, the Oregonian/Oregon Live obtained a copy of a police analysis of black market cannabis. The results claim that Oregon has an “expansive geographic footprint” across the country’s black market.
With the country in a sort of legal limbo when it comes to cannabis and Jeff Sessions breathing down the necks of state’s that have legalized, we’re worried this news could lead to a negative trend for the industry. The analysis also showed that the black market cannabis primarily comes from six Oregon counties. Washington, Lane, Deschutes, Jackson, Multnomah, and Josephine supply most of the illegal shipments out of Oregon.
This report doesn’t just show a map of illegal and legal cannabis as it is distributed across the United States. It also shows that Oregon’s cannabis output far outpaces their demand. The surplus has been estimated at a street value somewhere between $4.7 billion and $9.4 billion dollars. The states that often serve as black market destinations are New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Wisconsin. Generally, Oregon’s port cities are Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Grants Pass.
Black market trafficking across state lines has been a huge concern for citizens and politicians alike. With this news, the Oregon state government must take immediate action. Afterall, this trafficking takes tax dollars out of the hands of Oregon state citizens. It also gives a bad name to legal cannabis in a political climate that is just waiting for a catalyst to spark movement in either direction.
In the Cole Memo, former President Barack Obama stated that the federal government would stay out of the way of recreational and medical cannabis states provided that they developed robust regulations to target all illegal activity. And though Attorney General Jeff Sessions has publicly decided that he views cannabis to be almost as harmful as heroin, he does claim that the Cole memo is ‘valid’.
Senate majority leader Ginny Burdick believes that cannabis growers are the chief problem when it comes to exporting illegal cannabis out of the state. She also assesses that in a couple of years the recreational program will continue to grow, enticing growers to shift into a legal sales model. She also asserts that there is a lot of cannabis grown in Southern Oregon and very little to no law enforecement.
Though this could be viewed as a problem with all recreational cannabis, it certainly is not. As of 2016, Oregon was exporting cannabis to the black market at two times the rate of Washington. This leads us to believe that the problem with legal cannabis hitting the black market is an Oregon issue and not a nationwide cannabis one.