Dispensary owners say they're losing customers to the black market
Posted July 26
TIGARD, OR — While recreational marijuana is legal now in Oregon, industry insiders say it is not necessarily being grown and sold legally.
Don Morse, owner of the Human Collective in Tigard, said legitimate businesses like his are losing customers to the black market.
"It's significant. I mean, it's in the tens, tens of millions here in the state of Oregon," said Morse.
Morse blames delays in the state's permitting process for new entries into the recreational marijuana market, which acts as an artificial control on supply, which, coupled with the expense of testing marijuana products for quality, forces retailers to raise prices, which in turn pushes customers to explore cheaper options.
In some instances, those options are medical marijuana card holders, who end up with extra product, and are willing to part with it for a nominal fee.
"I think it's a well-agreed to assumption that a lot of illegal product that's diverted from the Oregon market is coming from the medical side," said Mark Pettinger, a spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates the sale of recreational marijuana.
Pettinger said the agency is working to streamline the permitting process to get businesses into the legal market.
The legislature also recently passed a new law allowing medical growers to sell their surplus into the state-regulated system, if they register their crops into the state's seed-to-sale tracking system.
"If something seems incongruous, seems out of whack like somebody isn't selling as much as they were or there's some kind of gap in the data, we can kind of look a little further and then go in and take a look at those records," said Pettinger.
Pettinger said the OLCC also plans to step up compliance efforts.
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