Oregon lawmakers prepare for possible interstate marijuana commerce

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The Oregon House passed a bill that would empower the governor to enter agreements with other states for the transfer of marijuana, a prospect that could significantly help MJ businesses in the state that have been dealing with a massive cannabis surplus.

The 43-16 vote came after the leader of minority Republicans urged passage of the Democrat-sponsored bill, noting the measure would set up Oregon to provide cannabis if the U.S. government ever permits interstate sales.

“The federal stance toward states with legal cannabis could change quickly, through congressional action or something as simple as a memo from the Department of Justice,” said Republican Rep. Carl Wilson, who represents Grants Pass in a prime marijuana-growing area.

The Oregon Senate previously passed the interstate sales bill. It now goes to Gov. Kate Brown for consideration. The Democrat has been a vocal supporter of Oregon’s marijuana industry.

The bill is intended to address the biggest hurdle Oregon’s legal marijuana industry faces, the inability to access other legal markets, said Adam J. Smith, executive director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance industry group.

Democratic state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who sponsored the bill, said he was looking forward to a time when the federal government would legalize interstate sales or say it would tolerate the practice.

“We will kind of be like what bourbon is to Kentucky,” he said.

The measure is part of a strategy to deal with Oregon’s huge marijuana surplus and prevent diversion of unsold legal MJ into the illicit market.

Another bill passed on May 30 gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission more leeway to deny new cannabis cultivation licenses, based on supply and demand.

– Associated Press