Congress is debating allowing interstate cannabis sales

Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon have introduced a bill that would allow interstate cannabis sales. Oregon has famously been producing more cannabis than its residents can consume, and the state recently passed a bill that would allow it to export cannabis to other states. However, states that attempt to export cannabis could very well end up in a conflict with the federal government, so this bill would make it so no money can be spent trying to prevent states from exporting and importing cannabis.

Andrew Livingston, director of economics and research at the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, told Cannabis News Box growing too much cannabis is actually a serious problem for Oregon and could become a serious problem for other states.

“Limiting supply can really just push people back to the black market, as far as cultivators, so they’re trying to create the first step to a pathway to interstate transport,” Livingston said. If growers have more than they can sell legally, essentially, they might sell the rest on the black market.

“Nothing is changing now [in Oregon], except the governor has the ability to enter into interstate agreements with other governors to send cannabis from Oregon or receive cannabis products from other states,” Livingston said. This could mean that Oregon might enter into agreements with California or Washington since those are states it shares a border with that already have legal cannabis.

According to Livingston, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll have interstate cannabis trade. What’s interesting about that is it could mean some states are suddenly doing the vast majority of cannabis growing because they have the proper climate for it.

“The winners and losers for cannabis cultivation will come down to the same sort of factors that make some states winners or losers for the production of any other agricultural commodity,” Livingston said. “Growing it inside under artificial lights in a place like Las Vegas just isn’t all that economically or environmentally efficient. Cannabis can be grown in areas in California or Oregon or Washington in a more effective manner that requires less input.”

Livingston said it will be difficult to get a bill like this through the Republican-controlled Senate, but he said he feels Republicans who say they support states’ rights should get on board. Whether that will actually happen or not remains to be seen.

“The free market means allowing trade between different individuals who would like to trade with each other,” Livingston said.