Oreghon, US.- When Oregon lawmakers created the state’s legal marijuana program, they had one goal in mind above all else: to convince illicit pot growers to leave the black market.
That meant low barriers for entering the industry that also targeted long-standing medical marijuana growers, whose product is not taxed.
As a result, weed production boomed — with a bitter consequence. Now, marijuana prices here are in freefall, and the craft cannabis farmers who put Oregon on the map decades before broad legalization say they are in peril of losing their now-legal businesses as the market adjusts.
Oregon regulators on Wednesday announced they will stop processing new applications for marijuana licenses in two weeks to address a severe backlog and ask state lawmakers to take up the issue next year.
Experts say the dizzying evolution of Oregon’s marijuana industry may well be a cautionary tale for California, where a similar regulatory structure could mean an oversupply on a much larger scale.
“For the way the program is set up, the state (California) just wants to get as many people in as possible, and they make no bones about it,” said Hilary Bricken, a Los Angelesbased attorney specializing in marijuana business law.
“Most of these companies will fail as a result of oversaturation.” Oregon has nearly 1 million pounds (453,600 kilograms) of marijuana flower — commonly called bud — in its inventory, a staggering amount for a state with about 4 million people.