On February 14, 2018, local leaders in the cannabis industry,announced the formation of a local advocacy group; Celebrate Cannabis to help combat the illegal cannabis production and marketing problem in Oregon.The group’s mission is to provide a voice and unify Oregon’s legal cannabis community to advance the interests of the responsible and legitimate cannabis industry.

Oregon voters legalized recreational cannabis use through the implementation of Measure 91.This new sector of the industry has created substantial economic development investments for the community.The Cannabis Business Times reported in February that, “in addition to tax revenues of over $800,000 to the City of Bend and over $400,000 to Deschutes County since January of 2016, the local cannabis industry has contributed to job growth and tourism.”

Celebrate Cannabis plans to develop private-public partnerships with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and law enforcement to support compliance and compliance with laws already in effect. They also want to provide education and inspections on adult legal cannabis use, product innovations, and regulatory compliance. Available information can be accessed through a resource portal on Celebrate Cannabis’s website and through events, webinars, and workshops.

Oregon’s Cannabis Industry

Before Measure 91, Oregon underwent an extensive process to outline a regulatory framework to protect public safety and support the industry. This framework is integral to providing predictability and certainty for cannabis business in central Oregon communities.ArcView Market Research reports that North American cannabis sales are projected to reach $20.2 billion by 2021, create 414,000 jobs, and generate more than $4 billion in tax receipts.

The OLCC regulates the legal recreational cannabis sector in the state of Oregon,and this includes every step from the application to the final sale at retail locations. Recently, the industry passed two compliance inspections 100%.

Everyone within every step of the legal cannabis marketing process must undergo a background check and fingerprinting, in addition to having a marijuana handler’s permit and completing and passing a test. This requirement includes every single person who touches the plant throughout the process. For transparency purposes, each licensed facility in Deschutes County is listed on the OLCC website.

Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

Furthermore, each plant must be tracked through the Cannabis Tracking System or Metrc. Each operationdesignates one person to trackthe plants,and that person must take and pass a Metrc class. Monitored by the OLCC, grow operations that fail to enter all of the plants into the system and track them may have their licenses to sell revoked.

Every cannabis batch is tested by an Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP) approved and certified lab for water content, pesticides, potency, solvents, and microbes. Product labels must identify the processing lab and test results. Labeling and packaging are scrutinized and must be pre-approved by OLCC and child safe. Every applicant with the OLCC must also create a “minor control plan” that specifies how the product is kept away from minors.

The Illegal Cannabis Market

Sheriff Shane Nelson of Deschutes County recently informed the Bend Bulletin that he has taken a stance against “more recreational, commercial marijuana grows in Deschutes County.” He is very concerned with the current overproduction problem in the area. Sheriff Nelson and Chairwoman of the Deschutes County Republican Party, Patty Adair, are very concerned with access children may have to cannabis and reports of people driving under the influence of it. Overproduction also drains local resources.

The illegal market pre-existed the current legal, recreational market and the solution is not to eliminate legal cannabis operations. Celebrate Cannabis will collaborate with law enforcement and the OLCC to find solutions to the existing problems and deter future issues within the community.To date, the group has progressed tremendously in creating a regulatory framework that protects both the public health and safety of Oregonians.