Oregon NORML Testimony for SB 218

We the board of Oregon NORML oppose Senate Bill 218 and are asking our House of Representatives to reject this bill outright.

S.B. 218 accelerates the conditions that allow predatory international investors from dominating our artificially contained in-state market. The West Coast, and particularly Oregon, has supplied the nation cannabis for decades before legalization. The oversupply of cannabis should not be addressed through license caps, but rather a rigorous defense of our legacy industry by our state representatives and leaders, particularly Governor Brown.

Governor Brown should enter into negotiations immediately with the federal government for the ability to begin exporting Oregon’s legal tested oversupply to other states. Currently there are patients in places like Utah, Louisiana and Arkansas who are using untested illegal cannabis while they wait for reasonable and responsibly regulated systems like Oregon’s to supply medical demand. Nevada, a legal state that we share a border with, has high prices and an undersupply.

A capping of licenses will make it even more difficult for women and minority groups to open businesses in their communities. Oregon should be working to improve diversity in the industry, not limit it.

Crucially, with the rise of highly-taxed legal cannabis in Oregon — which has brought in $173 million in tax revenues since 2016 — vulnerable cannabis patients in your communities have completely fallen by the wayside. Patients with qualifying conditions written into Oregon’s state law have lost access to caregivers and as a result, patient numbers are dwindling. Seriously ill people are being forced onto recreational and illicit markets. It is a cruel irony considering the state has a 6-year oversupply and no incentive for recreational producers to supply any of it to patients.

We all acknowledge the current situation is untenable, but this is the wrong way to solve the problem. The state-federal conflict has plummeted crop prices in state and led to many in Oregon’s sustainable heritage small farming community to drop out of the legal market or sell to outside capital. The State of Oregon cannot control outside demand in places where cannabis remains illegal, but it can do more to support legal pathways and get botanical cannabis in the hands of patients.

We urge you to do right by Oregonians, our farmers, our patients and our small business community. Support local ownership that leads to community reinvestment, not wealth extraction. Now is the time for the Oregon Legislature to take a strong stand and defend Oregonians federally, not increase inequality locally.

Sincerely,

The Board of Oregon NORML

Madeline Martinez, District 47

Angela Bacca, District 27

Michael Bachara, District 51

Sarah Duff, District 22

Steve Shumate, District 23

Leia Flynn, District 42