Ore­gon’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram ad­mits to prob­lems

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The agency over­see­ing Ore­gon’s le­gal med­i­cal mar­i­juana in­dus­try con­ceded in a report Thurs­day it has not pro­vided ef­fec­tive over­sight of grow­ers and oth­ers in the in­dus­try, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for weed to be di­verted to the black mar­ket.

The blunt in­ter­nal re­view echoes com­plaints from fed­eral au­thor­i­ties that Ore­gon hasn’t ad­e­quately con­trolled its mar­i­juana busi­nesses, and that over­pro­duc­tion of pot is feed­ing a black mar­ket in states that haven’t le­gal­ized it.

Ore­gon was one of the first states to le­gal­ize med­i­cal mar­i­juana in 1998, and in 2014 vot­ers ap­proved al­low­ing recre­ational use. The state’s strug­gles to move what had for decades op­er­ated il­le­gally in the shad­ows into a reg­u­lated in­dus­try set an ex­am­ple for other states mov­ing to­ward le­gal­iza­tion.

Ore­gon Health Au­thor­ity Di­rec­tor Pa­trick Allen or­dered the in­ter­nal re­view amid com­plaints from state and lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cials about lack of over­sight of the pot in­dus­try. The health au­thor­ity di­rects the state’s Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Pro­gram, while the Liquor Con­trol Com­mis­sion reg­u­lates recre­ational pot.

The re­view showed there were more than 20,000 grow sites, but only 58 in­spec­tions were car­ried out in 2017.

The Ore­gon Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Pro­gram has far too few in­spec­tors, while the track­ing of grow­ers and the pot they pro­duce has been in­ad­e­quate and in­ac­cu­rate, the report con­cluded.

“Po­ten­tially er­ro­neous re­port­ing cou­pled with low re­port­ing com­pli­ance makes it dif­fi­cult to ac­cu­rately track how much prod­uct is in the med­i­cal sys­tem,” the report said. “This lim­its OMMP’s abil­ity to suc­cess­fully iden­tify and ad­dress po­ten­tial di­ver­sion.”

The report said the med­i­cal mar­i­juana over­sight agency lacks re­li­able, in­de­pen­dent tools to val­i­date grow site lo­ca­tions and re­lies on in­con­sis­tent county data­bases.

Law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties say they of­ten have trou­ble iden­ti­fy­ing which mar­i­juana grow­ers are le­gal. Seen from a he­li­copter just be­fore har­vest sea­son, mar­i­juana grows are like a green patch­work across one south­west­ern county, one drug en­force­ment of­fi­cer re­called.

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