Clear plastic garbage bags that have been stuffed with commercial-grade cannabis nugs.

Sarah Climaco

U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams has announced five priority areas of enforcing federal law in the state, including what his office sees as threats to public safety and interstate trafficking, the Argus Observer reports. Williams outlined his concerns about the state’s industry in a January op-ed in the Oregonian and those concerns are reflected in his enforcement directive.

Williams’ priorities include:

  • Minors access to cannabis;
  • Cannabis violations involving firearms, violence, or other public safety threats;
  • Organized crime;
  • Protecting public lands and natural resources from damage from pesticides or extreme water use;
  • Cannabis “overproduction” which, he says, has led to trafficking out-of-state.

“Notably, since broader legalization took effect in 2015, large quantities of marijuana from Oregon have been seized in 30 states, most of which continue to prohibit marijuana.” – Williams, in a memo, via the Observer

The state Liquor Control Commission is also stepping up enforcement efforts. A February audit of the commission’s cannabis regulation and tracking systems by the Secretary of State’s Office found issues with the OLCC’s ability to monitor the program, which has allegedly allowed product diversion to persist.

Gov. Kate Brown is backing Williams’ efforts.

“Today’s announcement from U.S. Attorney Williams confirms our cooperative approach to cannabis regulation and reflects Oregonians’ priorities to keep cannabis in our state and out of the hands of children. A focus upon those breaking state law through illicit market production and trafficking only serves to bolster lawful Oregon grown businesses.” – Brown, in a statement, via the Observer

The enforcement is made possible by the revocation of the Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year; although local law enforcement has always had jurisdiction to prosecute bad actors.

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