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Marijuana Industry Expresses Concerns Over Possible Federal Legalization

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Roman Battaglia / JPR News
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Oregon cannabis regulators are touring the state to hear from people in the marijuana industry. Among the biggest concerns? What happens when cannabis is legalized nationwide.

Many in the cannabis industry see federal legalization happening in the next few years, and want to be prepared. Over a hundred of them showed up at Southern Oregon University yesterday evening for a listening session held by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Fernando Cortes is a grower in Medford. While Oregon is growing far more marijuana than can be consumed in the state, he’s worried current production levels won’t meet future demand.

“Right now for a producer in Oregon. 100, 200, 300 pounds a month might seem like a lot,” He says, “But in a national market, it won’t be.”

Cortes wants Oregon to focus on supporting local farmers by giving them tools to compete once marijuana is legalized nationally. One example would be allowing producers to sell weed directly to consumers through the internet.

Some other issues brought up by industry members included recent legislation to cap production licenses at current levels, and inefficiencies in the computer system the OLCC uses to track plants.

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Credit Roman Battaglia / JPR News
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The Board of Commissioners for the OLCC listened to industry members on Wednesday at Southern Oregon University

Board chairman Paul Rosenbaum says Oregon is well prepared for federal legalization.

“From our point of view,” He says, “if the feds pull the trigger tomorrow morning, no matter how much we really don’t know today, we’re gonna be a helluva lot better off than the rest of the country.”

Rosenbaum says that four years of legalization has helped Oregon fix many of the issues other states still face. He says states that have recently legalized cannabis look to Oregon when setting up their regulatory systems.

The board is planning on visiting three more cities on its listening tour this summer: Eugene, Ontario and Portland. They hope to use these sessions to help when deciding on new rules and policies for the marijuana industry.