A new report is out, examining how Oregon is doing with our recreational cannabis program. Much like Thomas Kinkade, it paints an ugly picture.
Oregon Attorney General Billy Williams says Oregon's cannabis is "out of control." The "Insight Report: An Initial Assessment of Cannabis Production, Distribution, and Consumption in Oregon 2018," was prepared by a group of city, state and federal agencies which comprise the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It's received considerable attention, but let's assess this assessment, as it may be used as a tool to impose some changes to Oregon's recreational cannabis program.
Who wrote this?
HIDTA is federally funded through the Drug Enforcement Agency and administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The program coordinates law enforcement goals between various agencies and governments on drug trafficking.
Why does this sound familiar?
Possibly because you may be stoned. But also, yes, a draft version prepared by the Oregon State Police was obtained and published by The Oregonian in March 2017. That was sort of a total nightmare disaster, objectively speaking. When the OSP found out the draft report was to be published, they immediately denounced their own report.
Yet, it was extensively cited shortly thereafter by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, except oh no he didn't, as Brown snapped back that "By using incomplete data, inaccurate research and unreliable sources, the flawed document drew unsubstantiated conclusions about cannabis legalization in Oregon to serve the author's personal agenda" as well as a "blatant disregard of any professional research standards. "
Oh, right...that thing. Christ. OK, so what does this "updated and corrected" report say?
We are producing more cannabis than we are consuming. (This is true.) The report used analytical models to estimate that Oregon's rec program produces over 2 million pounds per year, with an estimated annual consumption of between 186,100 and 372,600 pounds. (Pretty loose with that consumption estimate, HIDTA.)
The report doesn't state how exactly officials are determining what constitutes a "pound" of cannabis—is the entire wet, freshly cut plant being "weighed," or solely the cured, trimmed buds? Leaves and stalks aren't sought after by, well, anyone, so it's a crucial distinction that could radically alter the numbers presented.
As far as corrected, OLCC spokesperson Mark Pettinger announced, "The number of recreational marijuana producer licenses the report cites is about 1,000 more than the actual current number of producer licenses as of August 1." ...We need to figure out if there are other inaccuracies in the report."
Yes, let's do that, because overestimating 1,000 growers is a huge mistake. Pettinger adds the report doesn't make enough of a distinction between the three sources of cannabis in the state: regulated recreational, medical and unregulated.
The Portland Business Journal writes "The report didn't directly say legalization has led to more cannabis moving out of state," but "illicit distribution of cannabis has persisted after the emergence of the state-sanctioned market... with "14,550 pounds of Oregon cannabis worth around $48 million...was seized en route to 37 states... between July 2015 and January 2018."
Cannabis has been leaving the state by the thousands of pounds for decades, and the report doesn't attribute the cannabis being exported as specifically from the rec program. Illicit marketers gonna market illicitly—which is why the Oregon legislature last session passed the "Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Grant Program," which will offer $1.5 million per year for six years to local police to fight the illegal market. OMMP growers have begun strict METRIC reporting as well, further reducing opportunities for product diversion.
It states there is "insufficient evidence to support or refute the therapeutic value of cannabis" for cancers, cancer-associated anorexia cachexia and anorexia nervosa, IBS, epilepsy... or as a substitute for other addictive substances." Except there is though, so, yeah, nah.
This is a biased, inaccurate report, produced by agencies with a prohibitionist bias, and may be used to justify federal intervention. Read the link in the online version of this story. OLCC spokesperson Mark Pettinger announced, "the number of recreational marijuana producer licenses the report cites is about 1,000 more than the actual current number of producer licenses as of August 1."