US prosecutor: Oregon has big marijuana overproduction problem

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Oregon’s top federal prosecutor said the state has a “formidable” problem with marijuana overproduction that winds up on the black market – and he wants to work with state and local leaders and the marijuana industry to do something about it.

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams convened an unprecedented summit of influential federal law enforcement representatives, state officials and marijuana industry scions after Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew an Obama administration memo that had guided states with legalized marijuana on how to avoid federal scrutiny.

The meeting included representatives from 14 other U.S. attorney’s offices, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Nine U.S. attorneys attended in person, including those from California, Washington state, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada.

Williams also sought to calm fears among cannabis growers but said the market has a problem that must be addressed.

Everyone needs a “bottom-line answer” on how much excess marijuana is being produced and how much is being smuggled out to other states where it remains illegal, he said.

Advocates dismiss the idea that legalization has caused a spike in black-market sales. It’s just that now, because marijuana is legal, it’s much easier to track it back, they said.

Oregon did not cap the number of recreational cannabis producers, virtually guaranteeing an overproduction problem, said Seth Crawford, a former Oregon State University professor who’s an expert on marijuana economics and cannabis policy.

Crawford estimated Oregon growers produce up to three times the amount of marijuana that the state can absorb legally each year.

Associated Press