The United States today moved an important step closer to normalized interstate cannabis markets with the introduction of The State Cannabis Commerce Act by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer. The legislation, which broadly protects state-regulated cannabis industries from federal interference, would also bar federal agencies from interfering with cannabis commerce happening under interstate agreement.
The legislation comes on the heels of the passage of a historic Oregon bill, SB 582 giving the state’s executive branch the right to enter into interstate agreements for cannabis sales. The new Oregon law contains a federal “trigger” meaning that first the Feds would have to either allow such transfers in statute, or tolerate them via Department of Justice memo or policy statement. This legislation would satisfy that requirement.
“We stand at a crossroads in the US cannabis industry,” says Adam J. Smith, Founder and Executive Director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance, which is spearheading a campaign to make interstate transfers a reality by 2021. “While we strongly support the rights of craft producers and home growers everywhere, it’s irrational and frankly irresponsible to force every legal state to construct entire large-scale production industries regardless of environmental or economic suitability.”
Under prohibition, cannabis producing states like Oregon and California have supplied the lion’s share of the nation’s domestic cannabis. Most other states, including large markets like Illinois, which just passed legalization, are less hospitable to cultivation and have historically been importers.
FlowKana is building California’s cannabis supply chain by embracing Northern California’s independent craft farm ecosystem and environmental values. Michael Wheeler, VP of policy initiatives at Flow Kana, says “The West Coast offers the most ideal growing climates for cannabis with farmers that have been working with the plant for decades. It only makes sense that we would be building a future for the cannabis industry where this product can be cultivated in the most efficient, environmentally-friendly and inclusive way.”
The west coast production region is home to thousands of small, locally owned craft producers, processors, and manufacturers whose very survival could depend upon gaining access to other state markets. Lindsay Pate of Glass House Grown, a local craft producer in Bend, Oregon, says that interstate commerce can save the traditional industry.
“We grow phenomenal cannabis here, and lots of it. But the Oregon consumer market is tiny. It’s frustrating to struggle staying afloat while our products would sell for two or three times the price in most other markets. So many great growers would be able to survive and make a living. Without access to other legal markets, it’s going to be tough for the local producers to survive.”
Beyond the perfect climate and terrior, the incredible depth of knowledge, experience, and genetics in the region make it unique.
Ian Shoughnessy, CEO of Portland-based manufacturer Quill, believes that intestate commerce will be good for both the industry and consumers.
“The products that we produce in Oregon are made from cannabis of such high quality that it would be impossible to to truly replicate elsewhere. Cannabis lovers everywhere deserve access to responsibly grown, world class cannabis at a fair price. Interstate commerce will be a victory for consumers as much as it is for traditional producers and for the planet.”
And among consumers, perhaps no one will benefit more than Medical Cannabis patients.
“Here in Delaware, as in many medical cannabis states, patients can be legal under state law, yet have no legal access to the kinds medicines that can help them,” says La Kia Gooch, founder of the Team Illz MD Awareness Foundation. “Whether it’s cancer, or epilepsy, or Muscular Dystrophy, the most effective medicines for us are too often unavailable, and patients are left to fend for themselves in illicit markets wading through untested and unregulated products. Allowing interstate commerce would be a literal lifesaver for many people.”
Craft Cannabis Alliance members are majority locally-owned and committed to a shared set of values, including ethical business and employment practices, environmental sustainability, positive community engagement, and ending the drug war.