There is no doubt about illicit marijuana growth in Oregon. Growers have been producing and shipping unlicensed marijuana for years, seemingly nothing done to prevent it. However, times are changing now.
Given that most of us know about unlicensed growing practices, how are these growers able to not just produce but ship marijuana across the country? Are they outside the law or presenting themselves as licensed individuals? Given that hemp growth excelled after the farm bill 2018, they may be hiding behind a technical glitch, preventing them from getting caught.
However, the Oregon state regulators have seemingly found a way to bring the guilty parties to account. According to a new law, hemp will be tested twice for THC to ensure that no illicit marijuana propagates in the country.
In a recent post, Hemp Industry Daily discusses the new turn of events in the marijuana regulations for Oregon.
Oregon Regulators Start Inspections from the Southern End
Reports suggest that Oregon regulators have started the inspection from the southern regions of the state. Already, several farms have been inspected for their legality and legitimacy as a hemp business. The investigators are keen to know if there are any questionable operators connected to the company.
Marijuana growers are happy with this initiative. They believe that preventing illegal growth will help reduce competition with low-cost marijuana and allow growers to work more freely, without the pressure of illicit agents and criminals involved in distribution.
Oregrown, a marijuana company in Bend, Oregon, is owned by Hunter Neubauer. He believes that the compliance process is quite rigorous, and his company had to go through hoop after hoop to justify the legitimacy. He added that the regulators are taking the right actions in the effort to eliminate illegal marijuana.
New Regulations for Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission
According to the new law, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission is directed to inspect all the hemp fields throughout Oregon. These bodies must ensure that no growers are growing illegal marijuana and that all hemp growers are registered.
With this initiative, Oregon is now the first state that has sent regulators to hemp growth farms in the US.
Mark Oregon, one of the renowned marijuana regulators, suggests that the recent laws and strict measures are quite an important step towards ensuring safe and legal hemp across the country. Understandably, the decision has been well-received by most hemp activists.
The president of the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association says that the initiative is in the best interest of good actors. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about if you’re a legal hemp business that complies with the state regulations for cannabis growth and distribution.
Inspections Have Begun in Oregon
As far as hemp inspections are concerned, 134 farms have been inspected in the southern region of the state. According to Sunny Summers, the regulators have collected THC samples from these farms. She shared these views in a webinar recently. Summers is the cannabis policy coordinator for Oregon’s Agriculture Department.
According to the initial findings, there are no illegal marijuana growth cases reported so far. From the findings till July 23, there are 723 registered weed growers in Oregon, growing on a total of 6,539 acres, both indoor and outdoor.
Sunny Summers mentioned that the Oregon Drug Administration and OLCC, accompanied by local sheriff departments, start with the Josephine and Jackson counties in Oregon. After that, they will visit other licensed farms in the coming seasons.
A Typical Inspection Format
Currently, the typical format includes a check around at the growing facility. Inspectors collect a few samples and send them to Medford for THC testing. The testing facility is different from the one for preharvest THC testing facilities all over Oregon.
Interestingly, all visits are surprise inspections, and the growers do not have any prior knowledge of the visit. Moreover, they don’t receive the test reports unless there is something wrong with the samples. Generally, enforcement actions will be taken in case a hot hemp case is reported.
Inspection Visits are Paid
Summers also added that all inspection visits are paid for. It’s a collective effort by the OLCC and ODA. Currently, there is a mix of good and bad reviews from the growers regarding the surprise visits.
Summers mentioned that 31 cannabis operations refused to allow the inspection teams for site visits. However, most refusal cases have been resolved. She added that the only purpose of this exercise is to uncover any unlicensed hemp behind the legal hemp license.
The Investigations Operate Under 2014 Farm Bill
The provisions from the 2014 Farm bill allow the Oregon administration to conduct the surprised inspections. Furthermore, it will send some parts of the plan to the USDA for approvals in the future. They are already working to include new rules like providing a cushion for hemp that tests for THC levels between 0.3% and 1%.
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How Will The Inspections Affect the Market?
Most market personnel aren’t sure about the inspection of hemp products. They believe that it can be a negative in the long run. Amy Margolis, a cannabis attorney in Portland, believes that although the initiative has a nice intention behind it, she is still unsure if it will prove to be the right solution for the cannabis industry.
Amy believes that hemp can easily test for more than 0.3%, and it can prove destructive for good actors. She added that hemp cultivation for less than 0.3% isn’t exactly as straightforward as it seems.
Mark Pettinger, a spokesman from the OLCC, believes that the illicit market takes advantage of the real hard workers who want to produce legal and safe marijuana.
Another grower Pete Gendron in Sunny Valley, suggests that illegal growers often use dangerous chemicals for higher and efficient growth. So, accounting for these growers to eliminate illegal marijuana is a good initiative, according to him.
Oregon Cannabis Is Cheaper at National Level
Retail marijuana is quite cheaper at the national level. Therefore, Oregon growers believe that they are not directly in competition with the illegal market. Oregon’s retail marijuana is one of the cheapest throughout the country.
However, the initiative from the state will ensure that it places legal cannabis in a better position for interstate commerce in the US. Therefore, eliminating illegal growers will help improve the market conditions for Oregon’s cannabis industry.
Illicit marijuana is one of the bigger problems for the cannabis industry throughout the US. Therefore, initiatives like Oregon can help reduce illicit growth and distribution, paving the way for safer and legal marijuana throughout the country.