Though recreational marijuana will be legal come July 1, there might not be anywhere to buy it when that date rolls around. According to Portland TV station KATU, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says they won’t actually have a system in place to regulate the sale and taxation of recreational weed in the state until sometime next year. That means no one will be able to legally grow or sell marijuana for recreational purposes.
So, Oregon could be a state with legal weed where anyone who isn’t a patient still gets their pot through illegal channels. Or they could just say “fuck it” and let the medical dispensaries sell cannabis. Some lawmakers in the state want to do exactly that.
That’s why Republican State Senator Ted Ferrioli is creating a bill which would grant some existing medical marijuana growers special licenses to produce extra pot, and allow medical marijuana collectives to sell that weed as a regular taxed retail item. This could remove the need to unnecessarily leave a black market open, resulting in unnecessary criminal activity and the arrest or incarceration of those found in possession of or distributing what should be a legal commodity.
“Our obligation is to do everything we can to prevent the proliferation of medical marijuana into an illicit market, to take profit away from bootleggers and cartels, and stop illegal sales in Oregon,” Ferrioli told KATU.
“Medical dispensaries have proven that we can run compliant, safe businesses, so I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Matt Walstatter, owner of the Pure Green collective in Northeast Portland. “I think the sooner we can get people away from the black market and in to shop the better.”
If approved, the legislation could set an interesting precedent in other states. With many, many other states considering the move toward recreational pot, this could streamline the process for consumers. But it could also make it more difficult for new businesses to break into the recreational business if medical dispensaries dominate the market for months or more before anyone else has a chance to open shop.
Of course, the move in Oregon is far from a sure thing. Democratic Sen. Ginny Burdick, who serves on the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 with Ted Ferrioli, said she’s in favor of the legislature, but she’s, “not certain we will pull this off.”
“We keep our patients first and foremost in our minds, the sick and disabled patients who can’t are battling poverty for sure,” said Anthony Johnson, Chief Petitioner of Measure 91 to legalize marijuana in Oregon. “But it seems to me this is an idea that can really work if the state looks into it and develops a good plan.”