Oregon lawmakers, dispensaries respond to marijuana policy change

The move would allow federal marijuana laws to be enforced in states where the drug has been legalized.

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 7:58 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 8:04 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is getting rid of the current marijuana policy that prevents the federal government from interfering with states that have legalized the drug, and that has many people in Oregon talking.

Oregon’s governor and other state leaders said they plan to fight it.

Sessions is rescinding a 2013 Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalizing marijuana in states across the country, including Oregon.

The change allows each state’s U.S. attorneys to decide whether to aggressively enforce the deferral marijuana law, even if it’s already been made legal in their state.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called the move “deeply concerning” and Sen. Rob Wyden wrote on Twitter that President Trump promised to let states set marijuana policies.

The state’s attorney general is also taking a stand against the policy change. Ellen Rosenblum said she “will do everything within [her] legal authority to protect” the marijuana industry in Oregon.

It has bloomed into a multimillion-dollar industry in the state, collecting more than $60 million in state taxes last year.

KEZI 9 News spoke with the manager at Eugene OG about the policy change. Alex Traylor said he would prefer the state to handle marijuana regulations rather than the federal government.

“They've been doing a great job so far. They've listened to all of our concerns, they've heard us out in pretty much every facet of this industry so far,” Traylor said. “They've taken things we've said and really implemented them quickly."

Traylor said this policy change is concerning and he thinks it will hurt the marijuana industry.

But how much could Sessions’ decision affect Oregon? Marijuana, under federal law, is a schedule one drug, the same as heroin. Even so, a Portland attorney said he doesn’t think federal agents would have the resources to crack down.

“There are just not enough agents to go around,” Bear Wilner-Nugent said. “Compare that with the number of businesses that are licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to grow and process and sell marijuana. There are hundreds of them.”
Wilner-Nugent said without state and local law enforcement resources backing up the federal agents, there wouldn’t be many prosecutions.

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