It may seem like a pipe dream now, but Oregon lawmakers are anticipating the federal government legalizing, or at least tolerating, the interstate transfer of marijuana.
The state Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward a bill in early April 2019 empowering the governor to enter into agreements with other states for such transactions. The bill, which was completely rewritten in an amendment, goes to the Senate floor for a vote.
Unlike the original bill, the new version specifies that it would not be operative until federal law is amended to allow for the interstate transfer of marijuana, or the U.S. Department of Justice issues an opinion or memorandum allowing or tolerating it.
Republican state Sen. Cliff Bentz, one of two GOP committee members who voted against the bill, said he prefers to wait for the federal government to take action.
But Democratic state Sen. Shemia Fagan, who was among four in her party and one Republican who voted in favor April 3, 2019, said it would give Oregon marijuana businesses an advantage if and when the federal government opens the path. Oregon shares borders with three states that also have legalized adult-use marijuana: California, Nevada, and Washington. Interestingly, one of the largest suburbs of Portland is Vancouver, Washington, where thousands commute to and from Clark County daily. Taking cannabis across the Columbia River between either state is illegal today.
“Oregon’s industry is basically first in line for when the feds do act,” Fagan said. “If we wait until the feds act, then all the other states will be working with their legislatures to then pass, and Oregon will kind of be at the tip of the spear and take advantage of what could be a lucrative opportunity for Oregon industry.”