Oregon Runner Preaches Benefits of Pot and Performance

One runner in Oregon is speaking out about how cannabis helps improve his running routine. Long distance and cross-country runners often say cannabis can put them into a meditative state and enable them to power through a grueling course and focus on the run.

Central Oregon Daily News highlighted Stephen Snazuk, a runner in the High Desert region in Deschutes County, Oregon, about the perks of running on cannabis.

“Cannabis for me gives me a lot of mental focus,” Snazuk told Central Oregon Daily News. “Long ultra runs [require] a lot of mental focus. Maybe 10% endurance, 90% focus. Cannabis on the trail allows me to get into that mindset.”

Snazuk hails from Prineville and his running times can be followed on Strava. Snazuk told the news outlet that he grows cannabis, so it was only a matter of time before he put two and two together. 

“I think it helps with my performance overall,” Snazuk said. Whether it’s recovery; whether it’s running; whether it’s getting a workout down; whether it’s consuming food on the trail—nutrition. I think it has to do with everything.”

When confronted about the possible impact to his lung capacity, the runner said the positive effects definitely outweigh the negative effects. 

In 2021, when the pandemic brought a planned community fun run to a screeching halt, Snazuk used 220 handmade medals and converted them into positive messages to spread positivity throughout his community in Oregon. 

Snazuk also mentioned how cannabis is just better than alcohol when it comes to athletics. That, he says, is why a race with cannabis as a theme would make much more sense than alcohol-themed races that are common.

“Bend is a mecca for drinking. They promote the Bend Beer Chase left and right. I’m not saying I don’t promote it. I run it every year and I love it. But it is ironic they promote beer and drinking and running around town—basically public intoxication. But there’s no Runner’s High 5K or anything like that,” Snazuk said.

High Times interviewed several types of athletes who say cannabis improves their athletic performance, including runners. Most say that cannabis allows them to be more active, unlike alcohol.

Stephen Snazuk / Courtesy Strava

Cannabis Compared to the Runner’s High

The runner’s high is a phenomenon that was once explained as a result of endorphins, but now science points to an increase in endocannabinoids like anandamide.

High Times highlighted Josiah Hesse’s major-deal book on cannabis and running, Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes Is Changing the Science of Sports.

Hesse explained how the runner’s high is linked to the high from cannabis. “The two—neurologically speaking—are nearly identical,” Hesse told High Times. “What goes on in the brain, when we have the natural runner’s high, as mentioned, is an endogenous cannabinoid. Most researchers point to anandamide, which comes from the Sanskrit word for bliss.”

The body’s production of endogenous cannabinoids like anandamide reduce pain and increase joy and the appreciation of nature. We also get the same effects from phytocannabinoids in cannabis. As explained in Hesse’s book, neurologists have data to suggest that THC increases the production of anandamide, so it is believed to get you to the runner’s high more quickly and efficiently. 

Ultramarathoner Avery Collins told the New York Times how cannabis improves his running routine and the runner’s high. In the cannabis world, Collins is very active and has scored deals in the past with cannabis brands like Incredibles, Mary’s Medicinals, Roll-uh-Bowl, The Farm Co., EvoLab, PurePower Botanicals, and VaprWear.

Runners like Snazuk are continuing to spread the message that cannabis and running go together.

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Oregon Cannabis Industry in ‘Weakest Economic Position’ Since Launch in 2016

The recreational cannabis industry in Oregon is in its “weakest” economic position since the legal market launched in 2016, according to a new report released by state regulators.

The report, released last week by the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission, detailed that, after a “banner sales year” in 2020, cannabis producers in the state “entered 2021 exuberant and optimistic about the future of the market – and made their planting decisions accordingly.”

“However, the fading of demand as 2021 progressed, exacerbated by a record outdoor harvest in October 2021, set off a slide in prices that put the entirety of the supply chain under pressure in 2022,” the report said. “The overabundance of supply throughout 2021 and 2022 resulted in historically low wholesale and retail prices for both usable marijuana and concentrate/extract products. The declining prices, in combination with a tempering in the growth of quantities purchased, resulted in the first-ever decrease in annual sales (from $1.2 billion in 2021 to $994 million in 2022).”

That combination of overabundant supply and fading demand, the commission said in the report, has left the Oregon recreational cannabis market in perhaps its most precarious state since it opened for business about seven years ago.

“Previous market cycles have been buoyed by large annual increases in consumer demand, and Oregon’s recreational marijuana market has successfully transitioned most in-state consumers to the legal market. However, the Oregon recreational marijuana market is in arguably the weakest economic position it has been in since the inception of the program in 2016 due to a decrease in the growth of demand in Oregon, a production cycle that responds to market signals on a lag, and increasing stockpiles of inventory,” the report said. 

The post-pandemic sales dip has become a troublesome trend for Oregon’s cannabis producers. 

Last fall, the state’s Liquor & Cannabis Commission sounded the alarm on year-over-year sales numbers in Oregon, noting that sales in October 2022 declined by about $15 million from October 2021.

In the commission’s latest report released last week, the regulators “[m]arket dynamics on the demand side also point to a turbulent 2023.”

“Overall, consumer demand since 2021 has been at a lower rate than prior years, and there has been a notable shift down in the demand trend line. Moreover, the distribution of demand is shifting away from usable marijuana – both as an intermediate and final product. In previous years, OLCC Processors have proven to be a ‘safety net’ for Producers by purchasing large amounts of usable marijuana and giving Producers an additional outlet for their product,” the report said. “However, just like usable marijuana inventory, stocks of concentrate and extract products are at all-time highs and Processors are less likely than in the past to turn to Producers for new inventory. This also comes at a time when consumers are shifting towards other product types (particularly edibles) and away from usable marijuana. These factors all point in the same direction: fewer outlets for usable marijuana, and lower prices for licensees.”

The commission said that, although the state’s recreational cannabis market “has proven resilient…two fundamental facts remain unchanged” until the federal government takes action and reschedules pot: “in-state supply is boundless, while in-state demand can only grow so much,” according to the report.

“Oregon’s extremely competitive marketplace features low prices for consumers that have positioned the state’s legal market to compete successfully with the illicit market. The corollary, however, is that these low consumer prices force businesses to operate under low margins and extreme pressure. The narrowness of those margins, and the ability for Oregon cannabis businesses to operate under them, remains to be seen as we enter 2023,” the report said.

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Hemp in Flower

As the CBD frenzy sweeps the nation, consumers can find the cannabinoid in everything from soft drinks to deodorant. Hemp fields now cover huge swaths of American farmland and professional sports players celebrate CBD on social media. It’s certainly exciting to watch as cannabis reaches the masses, but one can’t help but think there is more to the plant than one three-letter acronym.

For a fresh take on the hemp industry, I visited Tweedle Farms outside Portland, Oregon last autumn to learn about the company’s success in offering quality smokable hemp and how it has educated a whole new breed of consumers on the importance of the lesser-known compounds found in cannabis.

My drive north that early November morning from Southern Oregon started on a sour note, as I passed countless acres of neglected and rotting low-THC cannabis plants waiting to be stripped down to isolate form and passed onto customers in that sad state, devoid of all full spectrum goodness in the name of pure CBD. I drove up the coastal range into northwestern Oregon, and found the farm down its namesake Tweedle Road, surrounded by Douglas fir and rolling pastures. Thankfully, after arriving at the headquarters of Tweedle Farms, co-founder James Green and COO Andrew Gruver lifted my spirits with their perspective on the upsides of hemp proliferation. 

A greenhouse grow site at Tweedle Farms.

The Mother of All Cannabinoids

At Tweedle Farms, Green and Gruver focus on hemp flower, which not only includes the cannabinoid CBD but also includes other compounds — like terpenes and fatty acids — that can contribute to the healing properties of the plant. 

Founded in 2016, the company began as a small-scale craft hemp producer but quickly morphed into an online, flower-pedaling powerhouse that ships connoisseur-grade hemp products across the nation. The business now boasts 20-plus full-time employees made up of family and friends between the farm in northwestern Oregon and the shipping and receiving office in Portland.

“The website started at the end of February 2018, and we got our first few orders within a few hours, we didn’t even know it was live yet,” says Gruver. “We had no clue what we were doing, we didn’t even have envelopes or packaging together.”

The demand quickly escalated beyond their namesake farm’s inventory, so the company began sourcing quality hemp flower from local farmers and friends. At the headquarters, buds are closely inspected, given a final manicure and tested by one of Oregon’s accredited laboratories for potency, pesticides and terpene content before sale.

“We include a notice to law enforcement, actual COAs [certificates of analysis], terpene analysis and every bit of information we can offer about each product we ship to the customers,” says Gruver. “We try to be as transparent as possible.”

“After the first pure CBG lines hit the market, it has ignited this fire for the minor cannabinoids. There is so much we don’t know already about them, it’s exciting to be moving in that direction.” – Andrew Gruver

Gruver and Green say they are most excited to share novel terpenes and minor cannabinoids with their customers. Last year, they grew a small amount of CBG-rich flower at their farm and have created a slew of products highlighting it. CBG has shown promise as a potential cancer fighter in preliminary studies. Research has shown it can also significantly lower the intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma.

“After the first pure CBG lines hit the market, it has ignited this fire for the minor cannabinoids,” Gruver says. “There is so much we don’t know already about them, it’s exciting to be moving in that direction.”

During a tour of the inventory, the pair shows me an array of beautiful hand-trimmed flowers that look and smell almost identical to their THC-laden cannabis counterparts.

“This spring, we even did a run in our greenhouses with supplemental lights that was essentially like an indoor run [of high-THC cannabis], the flowers turned out absolutely gorgeous,” says Green. 

High-grade smokable hemp flower dominates the company’s sales, but Tweedle Farms also provides concentrates, topicals, tinctures and edibles.

CBD Strain: Suver Haze from Tweedle Farms.

Education and Exploration

Green and Gruver attribute much of their company’s success to the wealth of information on their products that they provide to those who generally don’t have access to it or are too shy to enter dispensaries and CBD shops. Two full-time employees answer every phone call, email, Facebook message and online review to pass on as much data as possible to browsers and buyers.

“We both come from the THC side of cannabis, so we try to replicate a dispensary experience for everyone who comes to our site,” Gruver says.

With a customer base that is often new to cannabis use, they’ve also worked to educate consumers and broaden their understanding of the compounds in cannabis as a whole.

“We do our best to keep certain strains in stock, but we like to alternate between interesting varieties,” Gruver says. “If someone calls looking for a strain we don’t have on our shelves, I find three or four varieties with similar cannabinoid and terpene profiles and suggest they try them out at a discount and tell me what they think.”

“Now we’ve got people all over the nation trying new strains and really exploring their options with cannabis,” Green explains. “It’s great to see people seek novel terpenes, or strains with an interesting story.”

While talking to the duo, I was also struck by their overall commitment to the environment. Their farm opts for biodegradable row covers in an era where thousands of acres across the nation are covered in standard plastic that’s bound for landfills and waterways. All their flower is shipped in compostable sealable bags, hemp plastic “doob” tubes and concentrate containers made from reclaimed ocean plastic.

“Sustainability is really at our core,” Gruver says. “From our farming techniques to our packaging, we try to do everything we can. If we have to pay more for a higher quality, more sustainable product, we will always do it.”

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Oregon Health Authority Finalizes Rules for Psilocybin Services Act

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) approved its final rules for the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act on Dec. 27. The Act was originally created through the passing of Ballot Measure 109 in November 2020, which was later codified into law as ORS 475A.

The OHA’s final rules were created through recommendations from the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, the Rules Advisory Committee, and public comments. Initially the OHA released its first subset of rules in May 2022, and with the final rules now in place, Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) will begin accepting applications for four license types starting on Jan. 2, 2023.

According to a letter co-written by André Ourso, Administrator of the Center for Health Protection, and Angie Allbee, Section Manager for OPS:

“OPS received over 200 written comments and six hours of comments shared in the public hearings during the November 2022 public comment period,” wrote Ourso and Allbee. “These comments helped to further refine and improve the rules, which have now been adopted as final. The final rules are a starting place for the nation’s first regulatory framework for psilocybin services, and we will continue to evaluate and evolve this work as we move into the future.”

These new rules include an option for microdosing with the hope that it will “increase access, equity, and affordability while ensuring public safety.” “The final rules on duration of administrative sessions have been revised to create a new tier for subperceptual doses. These doses are defined as products containing less than 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte. After a client’s initial session, the minimum duration for a subperceptual dose of 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte or less is 30 minutes.”

The OPS also established rules to create translated materials in English, Spanish, along with interpretation materials to best serve a wide variety of potential patients. The agency also created numerous rules to address confidentiality of client data, improvements to the application form, and certain limitations for applicants if they have recently had thoughts about causing harm to themselves, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

As for fees, the OPS will offer less expensive options to those who qualify, with the opportunity to consider making the service more affordable in the future. “The final rules include reduced license fees for applicants who are veterans, receiving social security income, receiving food stamp benefits, or are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan,” the OPS letter states. “Creating a more complicated tiered license fee structure is not feasible due to the work required to identify appropriate tiers and evaluate license applications and supporting documentation. This work would require more staff capacity, which would result in higher license fees overall.”

With applications opening in less than a week, the OPS letter signs off with a hopeful statement. “OPS will strive to support applicants in navigating license application requirements and will continue to provide technical assistance as we launch the nation’s first regulatory and licensing framework for psilocybin services,” the letter concludes.

Meanwhile in cannabis, end-of-year analysis discuss the past year’s oversupply issues. The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) released a forecast in December covering a wide variety of businesses in Oregon, including cannabis. “Now, this is great news for consumers who can enjoy widely available products at low prices,” OEA economists wrote about the cannabis industry. “This is bad news for firms trying to operate a profitable business. One challenge there is even as businesses do leave the market, to date there has always been another willing to step in and take their place.”

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From the Archives: A Christmas Story (2000)

At the finale of the Christmas show last year in Eugene, OR, I came out as a skid-row Santa, complete with rubber nose, plastic sack full of beer cans, and a pint of peppermint schnapps to fortify the holiday spirit. I also borrowed my wife Faye’s blue egg bucket and labeled it: “Homeless.” I’d jangle the cans like a bagful of aluminum sleigh bells while I worked the mainfloor aisle seats: “Hey, come on, buddy. Put something in the bucket, for Chrissakes. Don’t you know it’s Christmastime? Hey, that’s better. God bless you. You’re beautiful.”

I ended up with only about seventy-five bucks. Not much of a take for a full house at a Christmas show. But even seventy-five bucks was a wad too big to pocket. So after I got out of my red suit and rubber snoot I drove off to seek a worthy recipient. I spotted a likely assortment of candidates in the 7-Eleven parking lot, on the corner of Sixth and Blair. I swung in and held the bucket out the window.

“All right. Who’s the hardest-luck case in this lot?”

The candidates looked me over and edged away—all but one guy, pony-tailed and slope-shouldered, his chin tucked down in the collar of a canvas camouflage jacket. “I got a streak of hard luck runs all the way back to New Jersey,” he said. “What about it?”

“I’m on a mission from St. Nicholas,” I told him. “And if you are, in fact, the least fortunate of the lot”—in the spirit of the season, I refrained from saying “biggest loser”—”then this could be your lucky night.”

“Right,” he said. “You’re some kind of Holy Roller? Where’s the string? What’s the hustle?”

“No string, no catch, no hustle. I’m giving. You’re getting. Get it?”

He did. He took the money and ran, taking Faye’s egg bucket into the bargain. The last I saw of him, he was scurrying away, looking for a hole.

Since then, I’ve wondered about him. Did that little windfall make a difference? Did he rent a cheap room? Get a bath? A companion? Every time I found myself passing through one of Eugene’s hard-luck harbors, I kept half an eye peeled for the sight of a long tail of black hair draggling down the back of a camouflage jacket. Last week, a year later to the day, I made a sighting.

I was in town with Faye and our daughter, getting in some Christmas shopping before we rendezvoused with my mom for supper. We’d done a couple of hours in the malls, and I was shopped out. I announced that I wanted to make some private purchases, and slipped off into the rainy cold—alone. I was headed for the liquor store on Eighth, thinking the spirit could use a little fortification. But the trusty peppermint wasn’t powerful enough. These hometown streets are just too strange, too vacant, too sad. Corner of Sixth at Olive: empty. The great Dangold Creamery that my dad built up from a little Eugene farmer’s cooperative: bulldozed down. I ducked my head and kept walking in the rain.

The street in my memory was the clearer path anyway: John Warren’s Hardware over there, where you could buy blasting powder across the counter; the Corral Novelty Shop, where you could buy itching powder; the Heilig Theater, with its all-the-way-across-the-street arch, flashing what we all took to be the Norwegian word for “hello,” so big it could be read all the way from the windows of the arriving trains: “Heilig, Heilig, Heilig.” All gone.

When I reached the city center, I noticed that the thing people had finally given up trying to call a fountain was newly disguised with pine boughs and potted plants. But to no avail. It still looked like the remnants of a bombed-out French cathedral. Then, when the rain eased up, I was surprised to discover that the ruins were not quite deserted: I saw a loose black braid hanging down the back of a camouflage jacket. That seemed right. He was in the old fountain’s basin, bent in a concealing crouch at one of the potted pines.

I came up from behind and clapped my hand on his shoulder. “Whatcha doin’, Hard Luck? Counting another bucket of money?”

He wheeled around and had my wrist clamped in a bone-breaking grasp before I could finish the word. I saw then that this wasn’t a chinless street rat standing down in the basin after all. This was a block-jawed American Indian built like two fireplugs, sitting in a wheelchair.

“Ouch! Man! Let go! I thought you were somebody else!”

He eased the hold, but kept the wrist. I told him about last year’s longhair and the matching jacket.

He listened, studying my eyes. “OK. Sorry about the twist. I was taking a leak. You surprised me. Let’s get out of the rain and see what kind of medicine you’ve got sticking out of your pocket.”

We retired under some scaffolding. He was less than enthusiastic about my choice of pocket medicine. “I’d rather drink something like Southern Comfort if I have to choose a sugar drink,” he said. But we passed the pint back and forth and watched the rain.

He leaned to spit and a folded Army blanket slipped out of his lap. His legs were as gone as the main gut of my poor hometown.

He was a part-time fillet man from the Pike Place Market, up in Seattle, on his way to spend Christmas with family on “the rez,” outside of Albuquerque. His bus was laid up for a couple of hours: “I think they’re getting the Greyhound spayed before she gets to California.”

When the pint was about three-quarters gone, I screwed on the lid and held it out. “I gotta meet the women. Go ahead and keep it.”

“Ah, I guess not,” he said.

“You’re pretty choosy for a thirsty man, aren’t you? What would be your best druthers?”

“To have the money and make my own choice.”

I reached for my wallet. “I think I got a couple of bucks.”

“And a quarter? If I had two bucks and a quarter, I could get a pint of Ten High. With four and change I’d go on to a fair-to-middlin’ fifth. Cream of Kentucky.”

I hesitated. Was I being hustled? “OK, Let’s see what we’ve got.” I emptied the wallet and pockets onto his blanket. He added a few coins and counted the collection.

“Nine seventy-five. If I come up with another two dollars, I can get a bottle of Bushmill’s Irish. Think I can panhandle two dollars between here and the liquor store?”

“Without a doubt,” I assured him. “With both panhandles tied behind your back.”

We shook hands goodbye and headed off in our separate directions, strolling and rolling through the rain. At the restaurant, my mother wanted to know what I was thinking about that gave me such a goofy grin.

“I was just thinking, if beggars can’t be choosers, then it must follow that choosers, by definition, are not beggars.”

This year for the Christmas show, Santa’s got himself a classier outfit and wrangled some holiday helpers out of the high-school choir. God bless ’em. And we’re gonna work all the aisles. Come on out here you helpers, come on out. Get down there and panhandle! And you guys in the audience start passing your money to the aisles here. This is no time to nickel-and-dime, for Chrissakes! It’s Christmastime.

Ken Kesey, one of the Merry Pranksters, is the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion.

High Times Magazine, December 2000

Read the full issue here.

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Portland Shop Openly Selling Psychedelic Mushrooms

A Portland herbal shop is openly selling psilocybin mushrooms, drawing lines of people waiting more than two hours to get their hands on varieties of psychedelic fungi including Penis Envy and Knobby Tops. 

In November 2020, Oregon voters approved Measure 109, a ballot proposition to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin by therapists licensed by the Oregon Health Authority. The successful ballot measure is currently undergoing a two-year implementation period, with the OHA currently drafting regulations to govern the production, distribution and administration of psilocybin for medicinal purposes. 

Another ballot proposition passed that year, Measure 110, decriminalized possession of small amounts of all drugs including psilocybin, but did not legalize the production or sale of controlled substances. Under federal law, psilocybin mushrooms continue to be a prohibited Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Despite the fact that the OHA has yet to issue any licenses to psilocybin providers, the herbal products retailer Shroom House in Portland has apparently begun selling its namesake fungi. Last week, a local television news station reported that the shop’s owner had admitted to selling psilocybin mushrooms after a former employee contacted the outlet about the possibility of illegal sales and distribution occurring at the facility.

“I was led to believe by management at Shroom House that this was the first medically licensed and sanctioned place to buy psychedelics in the state of Oregon,” Kace Colwell told KOIN 6. “They’re breaking all sorts of laws over there.”

Application Required From Potential Customers

To purchase psilocybin mushrooms at Shroom House, customers are required to provide two forms of identification and fill out an application to become a member of the Shroom House Society, according to a report from Willamette Week. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and complete a questionnaire that asks about anxiety and depression, among other mental health conditions. A reporter from the weekly publication was able to purchase psilocybin mushrooms within about five minutes of submitting an application. 

“Please use the products purchased from the Society in a responsible manner,” the application notes. “While larger doses of psilocybin mushrooms are psychedelic and will definitely impair driving, microdoses should not affect your ability to drive or perform other tasks.”

Shroom House reportedly has a variety of mushrooms to choose from, including Knobby Tops, Penis Envy, and Albino Golden Teacher, Willamette Week noted in its report. Seven grams of psychedelic fungi will set you back from $85 to $95.

OHA spokeswoman Erica Heartquist confirmed that no licenses for psilocybin providers have yet been issued. Sam Chapman, executive director of the Healing Advocacy Fund, a nonprofit advocating for the equitable implementation of Measure 109, stressed the importance of adhering to the guidelines detailed in the successful ballot measure.

“Retail sales of psilocybin are not legal under Oregon law. Nothing in Measure 109 or any other law allows the sale of psilocybin mushrooms today or in the future,” Chapman said in a statement quoted by Business Insider. “Many Oregonians stand to benefit from the healing properties of psilocybin, including those suffering from depression, anxiety and addiction, but the therapy must be delivered safely.”

But the lack of government approval is not stopping potential shoppers from lining up, in some cases for reportedly more than two hours, to join the Shroom House Society and begin purchasing psilocybin mushrooms. Customer Cassie Cadence said she waited in line for “like an hour.”

“But it’s worth it to me because I kind of feel like I’m kind of a part of history right now, which I think is really cool,” Cadence added. “Because I’ve been an advocate for mushrooms, psychedelics and that kind of freedom.”

Patron Randi King said he heard about Shroom House when a “friend of mine sent me an article.” 

“I told my wife, and she was like, ‘What are we waiting for? Let’s go get some,’” King said.

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Oregon Governor To Issue Nearly 50,000 Weed Pardons

Democratic Governor Kathy Brown of Oregon announced on Monday that she would issue pardons for low-level marijuana possession convictions of adults 21 and older prosecuted before 2016. The governor’s office reported that the move would encompass a total of 47,114 pardons and affect approximately 45,000 individuals with convictions for possession of small amounts of weed. The action also forgives about $14 million in associated fines and fees levied due to the convictions.

“We are a state, and a nation, of second chances. Today, I am taking steps to right the wrongs of a flawed, inequitable, and outdated criminal justice system in Oregon when it comes to personal marijuana possession,” Brown said in a statement on Monday. “For the estimated 45,000 individuals who are receiving a pardon for prior state convictions of marijuana possession, this action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

Pardons Apply To Pre-2016 Convictions For Post Possession

The pardons announced on Monday apply to pre-2016 convictions for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in electronically available cases in which the defendant was at least 21 years old. Additionally, there must be no victims in the case and the conviction must have been the only charge associated with the prosecution. The pardons do not apply to any other controlled substances or other marijuana-related offenses such as cultivation, distribution, or sales of cannabis.

The pardons will not result in the release of anyone from incarceration because no one is currently behind bars in Oregon solely for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, the governor’s office reported. But the pardons will seal the records of such convictions and help address the collateral harms associated with a criminal history.

Pardons Address Racial Disparities Of The War On Drugs

Brown noted that despite relatively equal levels of cannabis use among racial groups, “Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates” for marijuana offenses. 

“No one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana — a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon,” Brown continued. “Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years. My pardon will remove these hardships.”

The governor’s office noted that the pardons will only apply to state-level convictions for marijuana possession because the Oregon Justice Department does not have access to locally maintained city and county municipal or justice court records. In a FAQ document posted online, officials noted what happens when the records are sealed by the court and how the pardons will affect an individual’s recorded criminal history.

“The pardoned marijuana conviction will no longer show up on background checks of public court records,” the governor’s office explained. “However, the conviction may show up on background checks conducted by law enforcement officials or licensing authorities, but it will show up as a pardoned conviction. In addition, certain private companies may have collected the data associated with the conviction prior to the date of the Governor’s pardon, either through a contract with the State or by gathering that data from public sites on the internet.”

Pardon Follow President’s Call For Clemency

Brown’s pardons of minor marijuana possession convictions follows President Joseph Biden’s pardon of federal convictions for simple marijuana possession announced last month. The president also called on state governors to take similar action and directed the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to review the continued classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

“As I often said during my campaign for President, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a statement on October 6. “Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Brown’s pardons continue her efforts to reform Oregon’s criminal justice system. Between 2020 and 2021, she commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 with convictions for state crimes. After the pardons of marijuana possession offenses were announced on Monday, Democratic U.S. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a supporter of cannabis policy reform at the federal level, issued a statement supporting the governor’s clemency action.

“Pardoning simple possession in Oregon is absolutely necessary to repair the damage done by the failed War on Drugs,” Wyden said. “It is the proper use of governor’s clemency powers and I hope that every governor and state legislature will follow suit. The American people have consistently shown overwhelming support for expungement and reform of our marijuana laws. It is time for Congress to step up and begin to right these wrongs at the federal level. As we approach the end of this Congress, I will continue to push for meaningful cannabis reform, and will fight to get as much done as we possibly can.”

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With Demand Outpaced by Supply, Oregon Weed Retailers Lower Prices

Harvest and sales numbers both plunged last month in Oregon, and the result could be cheaper cannabis for consumers.

That is the upshot of a report by local news station KOIN, which cited the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission’s data showing “that in October 2021, nearly $94 million went to the state’s cannabis industry,” while last month, the industry received only about $79 million in total sales.

The station reported that the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission also “reported 5.3 million wet pounds harvested by all producers” in October of last year, while last month, “that number fell to 4.1 million.”

“The September/October time frame is a harvest ‘window’ for outdoor cannabis grows in southern Oregon,” Mark Pettinger, spokesperson for the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission told the station. “The actual harvest time is based on when cannabis farmers get their crop in the ground. Late rains pushed out the planting time this year. Also, the lengthy sunny and warm weather this fall probably affected decisions about when to harvest.”

“On the demand side, cannabis sales saw some significant spikes during the pandemic when consumers had fewer choices on how to use their discretionary income. Also, there was a fair amount of federal stimulus money that probably accounted for some of those increases. Since legalization in 2016 Oregon cannabis sales had been experiencing steady year-over-year increases,” Pettinger added.

Indeed, after cannabis retailers across the country saw a dramatic bump in sales in the age of quarantine, the industry has careened back to earth in recent months, particularly as inflation continues to tighten consumers’ pocketbooks. 

KOIN reported in August that the “pandemic boom may be coming to an end for Oregon’s cannabis industry,” with the state experiencing a steady decline in revenue from April onward. That downward trend followed two consecutive years in which the state topped $1 billion in sales.

“In June, sales totalled $82,723,244. It’s only the second time sales have dropped below $84 million since the start of the pandemic,” the station reported at the time. Experts said there are several factors contributing to the decrease in dollars sold, a few of which include consumer trends, the role inflation is playing on the market and the price at which retailers can sell their products.”

Oregon marijuana consumers who are feeling the pinch of inflation may enjoy some relief from this trend. As KOIN reported, the drop in prices “may benefit consumers who want the same quality of cannabis for less money, but buyers and sellers in the industry are put at a disadvantage.”

“The way that all states have set up their system is that whatever you grow and produce and do product manufacturing for and retail, it all has to be contained within the state,” Beau Whitney, a cannabis industry consultant, told the local station. “When you have an ‘everything contained in the state’ mentality, there’s not enough consumers to go around to handle all of that supply right in the state… when there’s oversupply and not enough demand, then prices go down because firms will get desperate. They’ll want to sell their product.”

“What cultivators have done is they’ve stopped cultivating,” Whitney added. “They’ve reduced the amount of square feet or acres that they’re deploying for further cannabis cultivation because if they grow it, but they can’t sell it, then what’s the point? It’s just like throwing money down the toilet.”

Oregon voters legalized adult-use cannabis by approving a ballot measure in 2014. Legal pot sales began the following year. 

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Oregon Now Requires Cannabis Employers, Employees To Report Suspected Human Trafficking

Oregon cannabis operators and their employees are now required to report suspected instances of human trafficking to the state, or potentially face legal consequences. 

Per the language of the order from the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, “Employees or workers at a marijuana licensed premises must report to a law enforcement agency or the OLCC if the employee or worker has a reasonable belief that sex trafficking or other human trafficking is occurring at the premises. Employees or workers must also report if they have a reasonable belief that a minor is employed or contracted at the premises in a manner that violates OLCC rules.”

Mouthful as that may be, it actually makes it a Category 2 violation for cannabis employees to not report any suspected instance of human trafficking. A violation of such a degree in Oregon is subject to maximum penalties of 30 days in jail and/or a fine of just under $5,000.

As a person who has spent the last decade or so around cannabis grows as an employee, journalist, and visitor it seemed odd to me to specifically include employees in the language of the order because any employee of a cannabis grow is typically—though not always—in a remote location far away from fast police response times or sometimes even working phones.

I asked Bryant Haley at the OLCC if employees who neglected to report something of this nature would be subject to fines or jail time.

“Likely not,” Haley said. “It would be the egregiousness of every case. Was the person partaking in some sort of illegal activity? That’s a different situation. Were they turning a blind eye to it on purpose? That’s a different situation.”

According to Haley, the OLCC received the directive to enact this order from legislation passed at the state level enacted to address rampant labor and sex trafficking on southern Oregon marijuana farms—A lot of people sleeping in greenhouses and living in deplorable conditions, a lot of “hemp farms” that were just cannabis farms using forced labor, and a big enough problem to cause the state legislature to direct the OLCC to require this reporting from its license holders. 

According to Mark Pettinger, another OLCC spokesperson, this essentially turns anyone that works in the cannabis industry into a “mandatory reporter.” It would come down to the police to actually pursue jail time for employees; the OLCC does not have that ability. The OLCC can, however, impose fines. 

When asked if the OLCC planned to impose fines on employees who worked for cannabis operators found to be involved in trafficking, specifically employees who neglected to report such crimes, Haley was not able to give me a firm answer because such a case has not happened yet, but he said their office’s main directive is taking action against the permit holder.

Regardless, human trafficking in the cannabis industry is a huge issue and I would be remiss to not include the following attempt at helping combat it with what little power has been vested in me:

If you or someone you know has been involved in human trafficking, call the U.S. Department of Homeland Security directly at 1-866-347-2423 or report it online here.

If you work for or own a cannabis business in Oregon and suspect human trafficking or child labor has occurred, you are now legally required to report it using their online tool here.

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National Coalition Formed to Protect Small-Scale Cannabis Growers

The National Craft Cannabis Coalition, comprised of state-level advocacy groups from Oregon, California, Washington, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, was formed with the goal of promoting state and federal policies that support small-scale growers, starting with the SHIP Act introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).

The SHIP (Small and Homestead Independent Producers) Act would allow craft growers to ship and sell weed directly to their consumers if and when marijuana is federally legalized. If passed, the bill would take effect once marijuana is removed from its current Schedule 1 status and once all criminal penalties are removed under federal law concerning marijuana.

“Too often, the federal government falls behind, and the gears of Congress work too slowly to keep up with the pace of a changing economy,” Representative Huffman said.

“Under my bill, folks in our state will be able to ship their products straight to consumers when the antiquated federal prohibition on cannabis is finally repealed. As large, commercial cannabis operations squeeze out local producers from the market, this legislation is critical for farmers to survive and expand their small businesses.”

Under the SHIP act, a qualifying cannabis grower would be anyone who cultivates:

  • One acre or less of 18 mature flowering marijuana plant canopy using outdoor cultivation
  • 22,000 square feet or less of marijuana plant canopy using greenhouse cultivation
  • 5,000 square feet or fewer of mature flowering marijuana plant canopy using indoor cultivation

Small and craft growers have lamented they don’t stand a chance in markets dominated by large multi-state operators capable of growing exponentially more canopy space for a fraction of the cost, especially when the final product has to be packaged and sold through third-party businesses. This results in a lot of large, vertically-integrated companies essentially pricing out the little guys who can’t afford to buy and operate their own dispensary, grow facility, and packaging facility.

“These producers operate on a much smaller scale than traditional agriculture with many cultivating less than an acre of total canopy,” said Amanda Meztler of F.A.R.M.S. Inc Oregon.

“With federal legalization on the horizon, it’s critical that craft cannabis producers organize across state lines to ensure that federal policy includes a level playing field for small and independent businesses.”

Thus, members of the NCCC have collectively proposed that the only way small growers can survive is if they are allowed to sell directly to their customers.

“The direct-to-consumer model is a necessary resource for any small-scale craft-producing community that is deeply tied to the land on which it creates — whether it produces wine, whiskey, cheese, beer, cannabis, or honey,” said Genine Coleman, Executive Director of Origins Council in a prepared statement.

“The legacy cannabis community that has worked so long in the shadows should have the opportunity to join the ranks of other artisan producers across the United States and enjoy the privilege of connecting personally with their adult customers.”

To date the NCCC represents over 1,000 small and independent commercial cannabis growers through their state-level organizations including Origins Council (CA), F.A.R.M.S. Inc (OR), Washington Sun & Craft Growers Association (WA), Vermont Growers Association (VT), Maine Craft Cannabis Association (ME), and Farm Bug Co-Op (MA).

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