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U.S. Attorney in Oregon Shares Cannabis Industry Concerns in Op-Ed

In an op-ed in the Oregonian, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams said that while “national policy has changed” – referring to the rescinding of the Cole Memo protections by Attorney General Jeff Sessions – federal attorneys’ “commitment to exercising good judgment in charging decisions has not.

“We will continue to look at cases individually and assess whether charges are appropriate considering the best needs of our community.” – Williams in the Oregonian op-ed.

Williams pointed out that the state’s recreational cannabis program has a “massive marijuana overproduction problem,” noting that last year postal agents in Oregon seized 2,644 pounds of cannabis and more than $1.2 million in cash tied to illicit cannabis sales headed out of the state. Comparatively, he adds, officials in Colorado seized just 984 pounds of cannabis headed outbound in the mail since 2013. Moreover, Williams says that federal agents and port police at Portland International Airport have seized more than $1 million in cannabis-linked cash and law enforcement in 16 states have reported seizing cannabis from Oregon.

“Overproduction creates a powerful profit incentive, driving product from both state-licensed and unlicensed marijuana producers into black and gray markets across the country. This lucrative supply attracts cartels and other criminal networks into Oregon and in turn brings money laundering, violence, and environmental degradation.”

He indicated that officials are currently working on a report detailing out-of-state cannabis diversion, cannabis sales to minors, cannabis cultivation on public land, and violent crime associated with the state’s legal cannabis industry.

“In sum, I have significant concerns about the state’s current regulatory framework and the resources allocated to policing marijuana in Oregon.”

Williams said he will convene a summit soon with members of the cannabis industry, public health organizations, citizen groups, and members of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to address his concerns.

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