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Written By Sheena Beronio

From its conception, Illinois’ cannabis adult-use market expected a constant dire supply of recreational marijuana. As expected, consumers of the adult-use market can’t help voice out their displeasure to store managers, which understandably couldn’t control how fast cannabis is grown on farms.

To help address the shortage, one common theme is circling business owners. This might be the time to call for interstate commerce.

Interstate commerce for cannabis would mean the purchasing of cannabis inventory from one state to another. For it to happen, interstate commerce needs to be either legalized or to have an official memo from the U.S. Department of Justice that allows states to sell cannabis with each other.

Interstate commerce was frowned at least by the government once. In August 2013, then-U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole created a memo directed to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorneys’ offices. The said memo urges the following office to focus on prosecuting several angles of marijuana utilization, including interstate commerce.

The memo written by Cole has long been revoked under the Donald Trump administration, but the cannabis industry remains to keep distance regarding interstate commerce.

Supporters of the interstate commerce proposed that cannabis products could be mobilized through rail cars since federal rails are under federal jurisdiction. If made possible, this mode of transportation could transport cannabis products to states where recreational cannabis remains legal. However, given the state of the U.S rail transportation system today, cannabis interstate commerce might take years to realize.

According to Matt Stern of Nature’s Treatment, “that’s not going to happen in the next four years, assuming (U.S. President Donald) Trump wins re-election.” Stern further added, “I would love to get product from any state, but there’s just no way … I would love nothing more because we can’t get product right now from the 22 cultivators in the state.”

The interstate commerce idea

Adam Smith, a major supporter of interstate commerce, started a massive campaign in several states. Smith is also the director of the Alliance for Sensible Markets. His campaign efforts started from his work in Oregon, where a bill about interstate commerce made media rounds as it was signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown last year.

Smith urges the public and those who are in power to look into the use of cannabis from a rational perspective. He said that it’s a lot neater if states could get their supply of cannabis on one region alone that prominently supplies the cannabis black market before. That way, money could be saved from the operations the states needed to grow their cannabis.

If a state can import legal marijuana in one particular region, allowing recreational cannabis can have a high shot for approval since the state wouldn’t be inconvenienced by drafting implementation rules and whatnot for growing weed.

“We can literally move millions of people in those states out of illicit markets years sooner, and get the industry actually up and running in a real way within a year if we could move product from state to state,” as per Smith.

The road to interstate commerce wouldn’t be easy

Andrew Livingston, Vicente Sederberg LLP’s director of economics and research, located in Colorado, said that cannabis interstate commerce wouldn’t happen in a few years. He thinks that the delay could probably be due to government inaction.

“I think we’re still pretty far away from the federal government passing a national cannabis law that essentially sets the U.S. Supreme Court up to strike down prohibitions that are currently preventing the states from selling cannabis to each other,” said Livingston. 

Another factor that would play is the possibility of employment cutbacks since cannabis would be imported from somewhere else. No cultivation centers mean, no farmers, and a lesser number of health practitioners. 

Photos Courtesy of Detroit Metro Times