On Wednesday, the Oregon Senate passed an historic bill that would allow the governor make agreements with other states — to provide for the exportation and importation of cannabis products across state lines. However, this will only be implemented if, or when, the federal government makes changes to policy that would allow such exports.
The legislation was approved in a 19 to 9 vote, and now it heads to the House.
Producers, wholesalers and researchers would be able to take cannabis across state lines if the government forges an agreement with the receiving state. There would also be requirements related to the health, safety and labeling standards, and the products would have to be tracked.
All cannabis entering Oregon would have to be tested and meet the state’s quality control standards.
“Oregon is a trailblazer, and this is another way that we can lead the nation regarding this relatively new legal industry,” Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D), the bill’s chief sponsor, said in a press release.
“Several states have legalized cannabis and so this puts Oregon in a great position to enter into agreements with other states, if and when the day comes that interstate cannabis trade is allowed by federal law.”
“With the passage of Senate Bill 582, Oregon will be ahead of the game in this burgeoning industry,” he said.
Currently, federal law strictly prohibits marijuana from being introduced into interstate commerce. Stopping cannabis products from crossing state lines was one of several federal enforcement priorities included in an Obama-era Justice Department memo aimed at reducing federal intervention in local marijuana laws.
In the event that the federal government does change cannabis laws to allow interstate commerce, or issues a new memo stating that it wouldn’t prosecute such activity, the legislation could be particularly helpful to Oregon’s marijuana market, which is struggling with an oversupply of cannabis. Being able to export some of that extra product could alleviate the problem.
Industry representatives in the state celebrated the bill’s passage out of the Senate.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but today’s Senate vote is a major step forward for the future of Oregon’s cannabis industry—and in securing our position as the country’s leading cannabis exporter” Casey Houlihan, executive director of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association (ORCA), said in a press release.
Gov. Kate Brown (D) has indicated that she is supportive of the legislative effort, saying in February that lawmakers are “trying to make sure that Oregon is well-placed in terms of the industry if and when—I would say when—the federal government moves forward.”