The first step is admitting you have a problem. To many, the admission couldn’t have come soon enough. The MMJ debacle in Oregon has come to a breaking point in the state. Dispensaries, cultivators, and more are losing money in an immensely overcrowded and overstocked industry. But it seems that finally, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), that oversees the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) is admitting inadequate oversight of their MMJ program.

Despite a system in place, authorities in Oregon have limited knowledge of how much medical marijuana is moving throughout the state. This gives the black market an opportunity to develop. Oregon legalized MMJ in 1998. But the state was forced to mold a business that had for some time operated illegally. In the end, legalization just caused a glut of cannabis.

Internal Review was Very Revealing

The Director of OHA, Patrick Allen, has been on the receiving end of numerous complaints from state and federal law enforcement over illegal grows. In response, the OHA performed an intensive internal review of all cannabis operations within the state. Their findings? Oregon is brimming with the overproduction of cannabis and the illegal diversion of those products to out-of-state illicit markets. In addition, the report discovered over 20,000 grow sites in the state. The major concern with this is that in 2017, only 58 sites were inspected by the OMMP.

Discrepancies in compliance means Oregon’s ability to track product is severely lacking. The internal review stated:

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

Frustrated Law Enforcement

Over the past few months, law enforcement officials have accused the state of allowing black market operations to proliferate through lack of oversight. They even requested a list of all cannabis grow sites in the state. The OMMP refused – stating confidentiality issues. But the agency is working on best practices for working with law enforcement to monitor grow sites. But the OMMP says that a lack of funding is what is really preventing them from helping with monitoring.

Not All Cannabis is Out of Control

Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission oversees recreational marijuana. This sector of the industry has stricter regulations – thus helping to ensure greater overall compliance. In fact, that is ultimately why the OMMP performed the MMJ review. Presently, 40,000 residents obtain MMJ in Oregon. More awareness means a stronger system. And a stronger system means the integrity of Oregon’s program remains solid. Patrick Allen added:

“We are taking steps to maintain the integrity of Oregon’s medical marijuana program and make sure medical products reach the patients who need them. The actions we’re taking include better tracking of growers, better enforcement, and making sure product that fails testing has been destroyed.”

Seed-to-Sale MMJ Tracking

Prior to the internal review, Oregon made some small steps to curb out-of-control growing. All MMJ growers with 12+ plants are now required to enter their plants into a seed-to-sale tracking system. The recreational marijuana regulatory agency (the Oregon Liquor Control Commission) runs the system. Then to help accommodate this influx of tracking needs, the agency has added 20 more inspectors and analysts.

Better Late than Never

Oregon appears to be taking the right steps to address its medical marijuana implementation mistakes. However, because the state has endless numbers of legally operating dispensary owners and cultivators, an unregulated program hurts everyone. Therefore, the sooner the state gets a handle on its illegitimate growers, the sooner Oregon can reap the benefits.

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