The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is gearing up to roll out new regulations for the state’s licensed cannabis growers. The regulations aim to give the state more control and oversight over cannabis harvests. But growers are already pushing back. They say the new rules could interfere with the delicate and often unpredictable timing of harvesting plants at their peak.
New Harvest Regulations Aim To Better Monitor Crop Surpluses
One of the major reasons states legalize adult-use cannabis is to push out illicit operators. The idea is to have a monitored, regulated market that makes it too risky and difficult for black market producers to survive. It’s either get above board or perish.
The reality on the ground, however, isn’t so clean cut. While on the decline, the illicit cannabis market still exists alongside the legal, regulated one. Especially as states make the transition to legal marijuana.
And that’s exactly Oregon’s concern. The state worries that legal cultivators are diverting their surplus crops to the black market.
In response to those concerns, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is working on a new set of rules to give regulators a better sense of how much cannabis growers are producing—and where it’s all ending up.
However, the OLCC has released no information about how much surplus cannabis is potentially being diverted away from legal retailers into the hands of illicit manufacturers and sellers.
The logic is that the black market has to get their supply from somewhere. And Oregon wants to make sure it’s not from legal, licensed growers.
Growers Say New Regulations Threaten Crop Quality
Ask any cultivator, and they’ll tell you, timing is everything. Producing high-quality cannabis for medical and non-medical customers requires careful, precise growing techniques.
And closer monitoring of the cultivation process could disrupt that process, growers say. In the wake of the OLCC’s announcement, growers are pushing back against what they say is an unreasonable burden.
Specifically, the new regulations would require growers to give a heads up to state regulators about when they intend to harvest, dry, and cure their crop.
Regulators want growers to give them their anticipated harvest dates, as well as inform them when they’re actually going to harvest.
Beyond that, regulators also want to know about growers’ drying periods. According to regulators, the drying period is another point in the production process where crops can get diverted to the black market.
New Regulations Hope To Stave Off Federal Crackdown
And OLCC director Steve Marks isn’t buying growers’ complaints about the new rules. Marks says regulators get the exact same notice from agricultural food processors.
Growers, however, say cannabis is not like those other crops. The fact that cannabis crops go into medicinal and therapeutic products means their quality is of the utmost importance.
And ensuring such quality often means listening to the plant in ways that make predicting exact harvest dates difficult. A crop could be ready earlier than expected. Or a weather event could delay them.
But Oregon wants to eliminate its black market. And gaining a better sense of the amount of cannabis legal growers produce allows regulators to deduce the black market supply chain.
That, the OLCC says, is important for making sure that federal enforcement actions don’t pay an unwelcome visit to the state’s cannabis program.
The OLCC could vote on the new rules as early as its upcoming July 26 meeting.