In Oregon, cannabis sales are booming. In fact, the state is now selling more weed and bringing in more weed taxes than ever before. And while that’s mostly good news for the marijuana industry, not everyone is excited about it. Recently, law enforcement has started getting suspicious that there are too many bulk sales of marijuana, and that these big sales are “leaking” into the black market.
Law Enforcement Is Suspicious
Oregon’s legal marijuana market has been flooded with product this year. That’s primarily thanks to a bumper crop of cannabis. As a result of all this supply, retail prices are exceptionally low.
Not surprisingly, people have been snatching up huge amounts of this affordable weed. As a result of all this, the state has been pulling in tons of marijuana taxes. According to local news sources, the state raked in $8.57 million in weed taxes in July. That’s a 66 percent increase since last July.
At the local level, the spike in weed sales has been even more pronounced. Local governments brought in $1.34 million in July. That’s a 73 percent spike since last July.
In some cases, dispensaries have been selling bulk amounts of cannabis to individual purchasers. For example, many stores regularly sell eight ounces or more to individual customers.
While this is allowed by state laws, law enforcement agencies are increasingly suspicious that some stores might be using these bulk sales to leak weed into the black market.
For example, reports show that two marijuana stores in Multnomah County are the source of more than one-third of all bulk retail sales. That activity has drawn a lot of suspicion from law enforcement and state prosecutors.
In order to curb what authorities fear are bulk sales intended to eventually move product into the black market, the state has made some legal changes.
Most notably, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission recently changed the amount of weed that medical marijuana patients can purchase. In the past, patients could buy up to 24 ounces per day. Now, patients are only allowed to buy up to one ounce each day.
This change seems to be targeting anyone who could potentially be making huge purchases in order to move weed into the black market. In fact, reports showed that 98 percent of all medical marijuana sales were already well below the 24-ounce mark.
Limiting Law Enforcement’s Investigation
While the state has made some changes to address the concern that legal sales are being routed into the illegal market, the state is blocking other attempts to investigate legal marijuana companies.
In particular, an Oregon District Attorney recently requested information on medical marijuana growers. The DA reportedly wanted the information so he could look into whether or not the grower was moving product into the illegal market.
But the Oregon Department of Justice denied that request. In response to the DA, the DOJ wrote: “The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act does not allow OHA to disclose grow site addresses to law enforcement.”
Such limits could be important tools to protect the legal marijuana industry. In particular, they keep law enforcement from arbitrarily cracking down on companies.