Pot expert says no need for Oregon farmers to boost yield

An Oregon State professor says the state already produces more than enough to meet demand.

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Supply would soar far past demand if industrial farmers were to start growing marijuana in an effort to get into the market created by the passage of Measure 91, according to an Oregon State University professor.

Sociology professor Seth Crawford said the existing marijuana farmers in Oregon could cover demand in all of the United States already, Portland Tribune reports.

As pot prohibition laws begin to recede nationally, however, the prospect of bigger markets and industrial-sized grow operations occasionally comes up in casual, just-wondering type of conversations, some producers say. What if Oregon’s grass seed growers decided to grow the other kind of grass? What if the state’s nursery operators turned their greenhouse expertise to marijuana production? Crawford said they shouldn’t bother, because supply already outstrips demand.

Crawford said cannabis — unofficially — is Oregon’s most valuable crop, with an estimated annual value approaching $1 billion. Based on his surveys of legal and illegal growers, the state’s “internal marijuana demand” in 2014 was about 150,628 pounds. At $150 an ounce, that’s $361 million. Medical marijuana growers grew and exported 391,694 pounds above the Oregon demand, worth another $587 million, Crawford said. That makes the farm gate value of Oregon’s pot exports alone greater than the combined value of hazelnuts, pears, wine grapes, Christmas trees and blueberries, according to Crawford’s estimates.

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What was in the documents the  Pot Czar leaked?

Documents leaked by the ousted Tom Burns indicate the state planned to do away with medical marijuana.

 Willamette Week reports:

It’s been apparent for months that the OLCC had singled out medical marijuana growers as the biggest threat to legal sales of recreational pot. That’s because medical growers in Southern Oregon are widely believed to be feeding the black market for marijuana. The more dope they supply, the lower the black market’s costs, keeping illegal dealers’ prices competitive with state-licensed stores’.

The commission wants to choke off supply to the black market, and the proposal Patridge discussed would have forced more growers to deal with his agency as it tries to corral the supply of weed. In public, the OLCC has been holding town hall meetings across the state, with Patridge taking a highly visible role as moderator, asking citizens if they want more regulation of medical weed (which voters approved in 1998). But Patridge’s secret talks showed the OLCC was already talking about how to take over the medical marijuana system and put larger growers under its thumb.

Developments indicate the OLCC has established an “endgame strategy,” meaning “medical weed won’t stay a separate system for long.”

In response to Burns’ firing, Rep. Carl Wilson issued a statement slamming the decision.

“It is becoming clear that the 800-pound gorilla here is taxation,” Wilson said. “Many members of the committee are deeply concerned with marijuana products being taxed out of the market, making everything we have done useless. … As I’ve heard from Colorado, you don’t want to get into the position that the only people who buy legal marijuana at the retail level are ‘chumps and tourists.’ “

The Mail Tribune reports:

In his statement, Wilson called the firing “disconcerting” because his committee has been working with Burns “from the very beginning and we are just now beginning to make the policy decisions that will make this whole thing work.”

Wilson characterized the confidential document that Burns was accused of leaking as “policy issues” that contained nothing surprising: “These are things that had been discussed in open committee, so, to me, it wasn’t like he shared ‘classified’ information,” Wilson said.



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