Oregon marijuana laws need overhaul, state audit suggests

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Oregon’s antiquated marijuana laws, written in an era when preventing federal law enforcement intervention was the main focus, need a general overhaul.

And part of the mission should be preparation for supplying other states in an eventual national legal marketplace, according to an Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) audit released Friday.

One of the first states to launch regulated and taxed adult-use cannabis sales, Oregon’s industry is valued at more than $1 billion annually.

Legal cannabis sales generated $311 million in tax revenue between 2019 and 2021, the report noted.

But the Oregon marijuana sector is also hampered by regulations “based on repealed federal guidance” and does not enjoy the same support that aids other industries in the state, the report said.

The audit identified other deficiencies.

For example, the OLCC does not track demographic data in order to gauge effectiveness of social equity programs.

The report also noted that while Oregon is “preparing for the future expansion” of the industry to other states, the OLCC should reform security and track-and-trace requirements to ease the burden on businesses.

Exporting marijuana to other states has been front of mind in Oregon, where:

  • The state passed a law in 2019 permitting officials to enter into agreements to export marijuana to other states.
  • Jefferson Packing House, a distribution company, filed suit last year against Gov. Kate Brown and other government officials seeking to overturn a section of state law that prohibits licensed operators from shipping marijuana across state lines.

State auditors also advised Oregon cannabis regulators to prepare for national legalization, when the state’s vast oversupply of cannabis could be brought to markets in East Coast markets, the Associated Press observed.