In 2014, Measure 91 passed in Oregon, legalizing the production and use of cannabis for recreational purposes. The bill was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown in 2015. Since then, the state has been overwhelmed with the regulatory aspects of managing both the new recreational and the existing medical industries, as well as monitoring overall cannabis production—including how much is grown and the use of pesticides and water.
This has particularly negative ecological implications, among other repercussions. With the rapid influx of out-of-area growers developing the industry, and regulation continuing to be a problem in the state, the result has been an uncontrolled boom that is slowing down and leaving a great deal of ugliness in its wake.
The Oregon Health Authority released a report in May assessing the state’s medical marijuana program, citing many challenges faced by the state, including, as the report put it:
• “Insufficient and inaccurate reporting and tracking” of cannabis farming
• “Inability to validate grow site locations”
• “Dispensary and processor inspections [that] did not keep pace with applications”
• “Not enough inspections and enforcement of grow sites”
• “Resources unable to meet regulatory demand”
Among other things, the state has thus far not been able to track how much cannabis is in the medical system, according to the report, nor can it track its medical grow sites.
According to the report, in December 2017 the rate of compliance for reporting the cultivation of usable marijuana products was 26%. The state has admitted that “the program simply does not have the staff resources to issue civil penalties for the number of non-reporting growers.” This raises the question: How many illegal sites are operating in the state?
One result of all this is a continued overproduction of cannabis in the state, which is finding its way into out-of-state markets. Oregon’s US Attorney, Billy J. Williams, submitted a statement about cannabis in the state in response to the report, stating that Oregon’s cannabis industry “…is out of control. The industry’s considerable and negative impacts on land use, water, and underage consumption must be addressed immediately.”