Oregon Regulators Met With Federal Prosecutor to Defend State’s Legal Weed Industry
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams requested the meeting to discuss the state’s black market cannabis market, but officials were quick to defend local legalization.
Published on June 13, 2017

A group of Oregon’s top state regulators and appointed officials met with U.S. Attorney Billy Williams last month in an effort to defend the state’s medical and recreational cannabis industry. The group discussed black market cannabis, the threat of a federal crackdown in legal weed states, and the millions in tax revenue brought to Oregon agencies from taxing marijuana.

According to the Oregonian, Williams requested the meeting after reading a report from the Oregon State Police that claimed the Evergreen State was a main source for black market cannabis being sold out of state. That report was unfinished when released and has still yet to be completed, but that didn’t stop officials from Governor Kate Brown’s office from meeting with Williams and sticking up for Oregon’s voter-approved legal weed lifestyle.

The presentation was spearheaded by Jeffrey Rhoades, Governor Brown's marijuana policy adviser, and backed up by Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton, a representative of the Oregon Attorney General's Office, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission executive director.

Defending Oregon’s legal weed industry, Rhoades talked about the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, required laboratory testing and security measures created to keep Oregon’s cannabis in-state and in compliance with the Obama-era Cole Memorandum, the loose guidelines issued in 2013 that allows legal weed states to operate without federal intervention. 

Of course, things have changed with Trump in the White House and Jeff Sessions running the Attorney General’s office, and Williams’ request to meet with Oregon cannabis officials falls directly in-line with Sessions’ threats to enforce federal prohibition in states with recreational legalization.

"Overproduction is definitely concerning and the violation of the state and federal law, diverting it to other areas of the country is very concerning and we are looking at it," Williams said.

Still, Rhoades and the rest of Oregon’s regulators stuck to their guns and celebrated the more than $60 million in tax revenue garnered from legal weed, and the 12,000 jobs created by the cannabis industry. 

Black market cannabis is still an ongoing issue in most legal weed states, but with the prohibition preferred by Sessions, every single cannabis transaction is a black market sale, with no tax revenue, tourism dollars or employment benefits. Let’s hope Williams and the rest of the country’s federal prosecutors can see their way clearly past Sessions’ unfounded bias.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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