Allowing Exportation Of Cannabis Out Of Oregon
Learn more about allowing exportation of cannabis out of Oregon with Adam Smith from Craft Cannabis Alliance. In a career spanning more than two decades, Adam has been sole or collaborative founder of a series of successful non-profits and public policy campaigns, has served on the boards of directors for statewide and national civic engagement organizations, led teams of nurses in collective bargaining negotiations across Oregon, lobbied members of Congress and state legislatures, advised non-profit and for-profit clients on a range of issues, and was a founding partner in a company bringing Pacific Northwest craft beer and artisan wine to Hawaii.
Adam’s writing on drug policy and civic engagement has appeared in more than 40 print and online publications, including REASON Magazine, The Guardian UK, Mother Jones Online, Alternet, and The Razorwire. He has also produced chapters for the books Busted; Stone Cowboys, Narco-Lords, and America’s War on Drugs, Drug Trafficking and How To Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. Oregon is seeking the legislative process surrounding allowing exportation of cannabis out of Oregon, we speak about that process and much more.
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Thanks for tuning into another episode of NCIA’s cannabis industry voice on cannabis radio. I’m your host, Bethany Moore and I’m the Communications Project Manager at the National Cannabis Industry Association. It’s my pleasure to introduce my guest today, Adam Smith of the Craft Cannabis Alliance, and so much more based in Oregon. Great to have you on the show today, Adam,
Hi Bethany, thanks so much for having me
I’m looking forward to talking more today about what’s going on in Oregon but let’s start by learning more about you and your background and what kinds of experiences you had before getting involved in the cannabis industry,
That’s a lot of years to cover, so we’ll do it quickly. I really come from the pulsar movement. Originally I got involved in drug policy reform in the early ’90s and ended up in the early days at a place called Drug Reform Coordination Network “derna which is now StopTheDrugWar dot org, and I started publishing a weekly news magazine covering the drug or a drug policy from their form perspective, and it was really early in the days of the internet, and there wasn’t anything like that out there, and so it really became an interesting Center, where we were covering again, I was getting to interact with him, speak with people doing Needle Exchange and prison reform and cannabis and psychedelics and it was just incredible experience and during that time I present, could inside the Higher Education Act which eliminated federal financial aid eligibility for any student for any drug conviction. So if you had gotten home in the Dima when you were 15, you were lifetime now, ineligible for federal financial aid? And so we launched a campaign we put out a resolution, and we launched the campaign, through students that were on our list and sent them a resolution to go to your student governments in you Administration and get them to sign on to this and the response was amazing. And we had dozens of campuses started to organize, and out of that, we launched something called Students for sensible drug policy which is still around. And some listeners may know or maybe alumni.
And in 30 countries, which I did not grow it to that. So that’s where I come from. And years in between, I’ve done other non-profit work and civic engagement and expanding vote by mail and I’ve worked for labor unions, but a couple of years ago, a few years ago, when things got legal here, I got really interested in diving back into drug policy and it was watching, watching the industry begin to emerge here from the medical community and from the Elisa world and, and it became clear that we needed to organize and so we started the CRF contest line and now I will get too far as in like “We’re gonna… I guess we’ll talk about that, but that’s really my background. And so I come to this from the policy side, but I think that how legalization happens and how the industry emerges is really important on the policy side, as we look to end the drug war in addition to making cannabis available to folks.
Yes, that is great. I love hearing that. I’m familiar with Stop the drug war. And of course I think a lot of people in the industry have heard of SSDP, students for sensible drug policy which is headed up currently, by the lovely Betty Aldworth… Alright, we’re so happy to know and love Betty.
We do go to speak to or tomorrow, I’m doing a podcast with Betty tomorrow on marijuana today with Chris Lawler and Grant-hood Stan Goldman and so I’ll be talking about I…
Oh that’s great, oh yeah.
So, SSDP, is a great organization to support if you’re looking to support an organization that’s not industry per sale, and you wanna do the grassroot stuff. SSDP, is literally creating the cannabis industry’s future leaders. Some of these people are probably gonna go into policy or start their own businesses or in some way, shape or form do something once they graduate college, to serve the cannabis industry, so that’s great, thanks for telling us about your background there.
So you mentioned you got curious about cannabis again that… Once legalization in Oregon, hit, and you formed the craft cannabis alliance is that right?
That is true, yeah, it’s really interesting. I had a little detour from policy and did some work with a friend of mine who’s in the wine industry, and he was bringing craft beer and artisan wine from Oregon in the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii, and I got to go over there and do a bunch of work with that, and it became clear to me what the Craft brand meant and what the Oregon brand meant. And so when I got back from doing that everyone was talking about this is organs next grade craft industry and I sort of looked around and thought Well maybe or it could end up being a dozen Canadian arouses that wipe everybody out and that seemed to be headed possibly in that direction. And so as an organizer, I thought, Well, we should lift up the craft industry we have it here, but the first thing we need to do is identify what that is. We sort of know it when we see it. And it really came down to folks that are companies that were majority locally owned, that were connected to communities, and that Sara set of values, and those values really came down to people who are committed to ethical business and employment practices to sustainability to positive community engagement and to ending the drug war.
And if you were local, and you and those were values you shared, then as far as we were concerned, you were part of the craft industry here and so… And so we started to do that and do that organizing and initially we thought, Well we should tell… Oregonian, that there’s a difference between everything is grown in the state, but there’s a difference between cannabis that’s grown by local farmers incomes that’s grown by Toronto bank account, no offense to the Canadians who are our friends and that folks should support the local which is actually a real strong Oregon value. We really do support local businesses, and so we thought we need to let people know that there is a local industry here that’s values driven, but over the first three harvest or so the glut became so bad that it became clear that even if every Oregonian the state, but nothing but local, it still wasn’t gonna save the local industry, they’re just the prices that crashed, and it’s interesting organ. When we legalize cannabis we did something or did something that was very wise I think, and very Aragon in which is… We legalize the industry, we had right Oregon and Northern California have been the producers of the vast majority of domestically grown cannabis for as far back as anyone can remember, right? And so the time Oregon legalized for adult use they had a 20 year medical we had a 20-year medical program here and literally generations of growing before that, and so we had 3500 riders to medical growers and we knew we had thousands of register growers, and the state rather than try to go corporate and say, show us that you have 20 million and you can have one of a dozen licenses. They actually organ-made licenses cheap and Unlimited and actually ran a marketing campaign aimed at growers that called go legal. And the message was, we know you’re out there, whether you’re registered medical you’re not registered at all, come in out of the cold, come be part of the legal industry, and I… Yeah, and that was important because cannabis has been such an important economic driver in some of the poorest rural and agricultural regions of the state and it particularly since timber sort of went out and so this was important. And so rather than try to wipe that out, which of course, eight years of pro-“bih in invite it in, and thousands of people jumped in and put everything on the line to be part of this legal industry.
What we didn’t think through entirely when we legalized the industry we had here, the industry we had here was an export industry and had always been an export. strum Sadat yeah, suddenly all about cannabis and more was now hemmed into a market of 39 million people and Oh my goodness, we have a million extra pounds of cannabis. How did that happen, right?
And so, now we start talking about, Oh, there’s an over-supply problem.
But the framing of this is important, it’s not really an over-supply problem, it’s a market access problem and because if cannabis like every other legal product that is produced in the state of cannabis could be sent into other markets that desire it, we would need every ounce of cannabis, we could produce under current licensure and we’d probably have to expand licensing here. Yeah, gotcha. So, crannies, Alliance, is working to focus on the craft Oregon growers and support that locally controlled craft industries. What it sounds like, right? And it’s not just growers, it’s producers, it’s all licensed types but the truth is what we’re looking at is that Oregon and Northern California are really the only sort of indigenous scaled up-producing region in the country, right? And so, there’s something here that’s important that’s connected to communities that is connected to this incredible talent base, and this incredible ? grow some of the world’s best and because of this oversupply in the price crash and because of the lot we are the folks that are really hurting here, and the folks in California, I think that are going to be facing the same thing soon. Are the locals are the folks that don’t have access to capital markets, right? And so, we have when the over supply problem happen I started to say the framing is important ’cause if we call it over-supply, then the answers we come to are all hurt farmers. How do we have fewer of those people or fewer licenses, and how do we make them produce us? But when we understand that it’s a political problem in a market access problem answers, we come to are more expensive. They are, how do we get our political leaders to stand up with us in demand that we’d be able to access other markets as we have always done, absolutely.
And so we began the process of moving toward licensed Interstate transfers, between legal states and the FIA. Let’s definitely talk more about that. “After the commercial break, we do need to give some time to our sponsors. So, hold that thought, We’ll be right back on NCIA’s cannabis industry voice, stay tuned
We’re back on cannabis radio, and we’ve been diving in with Adam Smith from the craft cannabis Alliance about what’s going on in Oregon and how it produces some really great cannabis as does Northern California, but there are some federal prohibition, issues, of course, that are preventing the market from truly driving.
So let’s talk more about that.
From what I understand, Oregon is seeking a legislative process at this point surrounding allowing exportation of cannabis out of the state, which you mentioned before the commercial break. So let’s back up and talk more about how all this came about. Oregon is overflowing with cannabis. It’s growing faster than it can be consumed by Oregonian is that right?
Try as we might… Yeah, that’s funny. So there’s plenty of legal issues to be surmounted. It’s important to talk about the current state of federal prohibition, which doesn’t allow cannabis to cross-state lines, I believe that was lined out in the Cole Memorandum as well, even between legal states. So you can even between California, Washington and Oregon, you can’t even move it between those states.
So these are creating these standalone markets that literally only serve itself within state lines and try as you might, as you said, I get it so what is the impact it’s having on the farmers and the dispensaries?
Well, obviously here we have seen prices crash and so that has made everything very difficult for everyone. The product makers, and the farmers particularly or stuck in… Or stuck as long as its producer or stuck into a very small market.
And the truth is we need to look at when this came about, and it became clear that we have an economic crisis going on, here we are looking at between rest is we’re looking at between half a million and a billion dollars in local capital that is in the process of on the verge of or at risk of being wiped out, and that’s not like Nike’s local capital or Intel’s local capital that is farmers and small investors and entrepreneurs and families and friends and people who were homes, businesses, and a lot of that is centered in some of the poor regions of the state. And initially, people thought… Oh, well, that’s just capitalism but it’s not capitalism is we have a great product and we can send it to New York and they send us money and it’s legal is capitalism, we are prohibition, right? And, prohibition distorts market and causes all kinds of unintended consequences, and so some of the unintended consequences that we are looking at are not only the economic crisis that’s happening here, but the fact that there are places in the country that are now looking at growing cannabis at scale where it’s environmentally unsound, or even totally responsible to force that to happen.
We have states, we are working with some patient access groups in Delaware where it’s legal to be a medical patient but there’s no real access to clean-tested quality medicine, and a state like Delaware is unlikely to suddenly spring up a huge production industry, with bio-diversity and different products and so see if cancer patients in states that cannot get access all medicine while we have a million pounds of the world’s best cannabis sitting and rotting on shelves on the other side of the country. So, you, on a “parsa yeah, so you have a patient access issue. And the other thing that we have is a real economic issue within the industry, which is when the walls eventually come down, whether that’s in two years or five years or seven years when federal probation ends. No, you are not going to be able to keep products from one state out of another state. We can’t keep California oranges out of Florida, right?
The protectionism doesn’t actually exist in the wild, in our system, it only exists here as a remnant of a dying probationary regime.
So right now if New York legalize and New Jersey legalize as an Illinois legalize and Connecticut lives each of those states will invest billions of dollars into redundant production capacity that is not economically competitive necessarily or environmentally sound that when the walls come down, will be faced with competing against cannabis that’s going to come from places that it actually grows and so it is insane, economically to make that investment to move forward as if each state is gonna be its own site. I’m not the future of the industry is 50 state self-contained production.
Totally, that leads me to my next question. Obviously, the solution here is to allow delicious or in Canada to be exported to these places that you’re saying maybe don’t have a great climate or maybe is it a mature market and would be redundant? So let’s talk a bit more about the benefits of exporting and what would that look like? You already mentioned that patients would have access to safe, clean tested medicine, but what other benefits come about? If we were to allow a state crossed exporting well, you would avoid real economic harm, a real environmental harms in Florida, they need to dementia giant spaces in Nevada. They’re using water in the desert, right? And so, you would… Cannabis is a resource-intensive crop, but it doesn’t need to be as resource intensive as it is in many of the states where you would have to try to grow it.
Sure, and so I always say You can grow avocados, in New York, if you want, you can build a facility, it’s just a bad business decision for overs farm of avocados. Apparently, she has an avocado farm. Now, really, maybe we can talk on a growing some cannabis maybe your listening you got a spot for you, so I… So that is, those are the benefits and also being able to move product, between states will also make it easier for more states to decide to legalize right faster because you won’t have to set up an entire production industry, as a states know how to regulate retail and distribution, right? And we can do that. And on the other side of this on the law enforcement side, even on the prohibitionist side, they’re concerned right now and it’s gonna get worse as California continues to come online. Is this oversupply in, this lot and product leaking out into elicit markets. But if your answer to that is to say, “Oh we’re concerned about over-supply or we’re concerned about diversion and our answer to that is to make sure that New York and count and Connecticut and Illinois all have to create their on industries. You’re gonna flood the country Sur with unnecessary condoms, and then you’re gonna then it’s gonna be 10 times worse than you’re linois. Totally get it, yeah, yeah. And so from all sides of this, not us from the reform side, from the industry side prohibition to store markets and creates on attended content months the way markets actually function is stuff is produced where it is best and most efficiently produced and it is sent to places where it is, where it is desired commons on as a… And so this is actually the future. And so our goal right now is how fast can we make that happen so we can, if New York legalized tomorrow, it will take them years, the bill shelves with quality products, we could move millions and millions of people out of illicit markets years sooner, than we would otherwise, do if we could just move product across these imaginary lines in. So we get to here is the campaign and we think we have a pretty direct path to do this by 2021 and that is the goal.
Awesome, yes. So what does that path to allowing exportation look like from here that you probably have to work with the Governor and when are champions in Congress in DC, like Earl Blumenauer and run wide and in the senate, yeah, we have a great benefit here of having Senators like Merkley, and Wyden and members of Congress like Blumenauer.
It’s just incredible they’ve really been leaders and I try to con… Out to them any time I can. They are real champions for not only the industry, but for social justice and criminal justice and common sense and lately agree, yeah. And so, here is the path.
So we have a bill right now in the Oregon legislature that will give the executive branch, probably through the Liquor Commission, authority to approve out-of-state transfers, under agreement with other states, because it’s not federally legal, there’s federal there are no federal guidelines and so you could only do this under agreement in an Anita. My state, right? And the agreements are not complex it’s… We will accept your testing requirements you will color to our labeling requirements, but you need to set the framework for how these exchanges happen, right? Yeah, and so we have in the last eight or 10 months, we’ve really changed the understanding of the issue here among our political class. They understand that the future of this industry for Oregon success in this industry includes exporting products and that this is the obvious way to move forward. And so we believe that the bill will pass now the bill requires that the fire obviously, we need two things we need another state that wants to bring product in and we also need some level of permission or tolerance from the federal government if the federal government is going to mow everybody down and put them in prison, no two governors are gonna send people out to do that it… But we wrote the legislation very broadly, so that we can do this. If the federal government gives direct permission which would be through federal statute or indicates tolerance, which can be through a Department of Justice memo or policy statement. We write these memos we… It’s been helpful, they been helpful, right? This is all that the entire industry is running under right now. It’s not even a memo, it’s a deceased memo, it’s just the outline of the federal government, saying, “Look if you’re operating on your state laws and you’re doing it responsibly we are not gonna use resources to prosecute that and so we are aiming at making it obvious that state that license transfers between consenting states it is an obvious part of protecting the state industries.
It is smart policy and so we are pushing in the congressional side so that we can get licensed Interstate transfers, included in whatever bill is going to move forward, that will protect the state industries right now, let me back up and say There is a path for this through the Republican Party, and it involves re-talking about free markets and capitalism and how that smooth things out. But their Pelican Party right now is a little bit chaotic, so it’s a little difficult to know how sure that path is, but there’s also a path through the Democratic Party which feels much more straight forward which is we talk about the environmental insanity of forcing every state that legalized, is to grow cannabis. We talk about patient access we talk about small businesses being crushed here, and a lot of democratic issues, right? We told up moving people out of a list markets faster, things that will resonate with Democrats and then we head toward the 2020 election in which cannabis is going to be a major issue.
Yeah, and so we need to tell this story so that when the Democrats take over, it is part of their understanding of the smart way to protect the stand undersea even if the Democrats took over both the Senate and the White House, I believe it will still take them several years to really work out how to end federal prohibition, but I believe that they will immediately stand up to protect the state industries on… Alright, let’s take our last commercial break here in the… Come back and talk more about the… Is it the one fixed cannabis campaign?
It is, although you… Right, yes, yes, so, alright, we’re gonna talk more about that. We’ll be right back. Stay tuned, NCIA’s cannabis industry voice will be right back
Alright, we’re back on NCIA’s cannabis industry voice and we’re wrapping up our chat here with Adam Smith from the craft cannabis alliance based in Oregon and we’ve been having a pretty exciting conversation about the future of Oregon and the future of exporting delicious cannabis to states that may not have access yet may not have mature markets, and doesn’t make sense for them to invest billions of dollars to try to reinvent the wheel in that state. So we’re talking about, it’s called the one-fix-campaign Senate Bill, I bet to it is a to in this legislative session and it’s co-sponsored by our friends over at the Oregon retailers of Cannabis Association, as well.
Day and was re-as well. Yep, and they’re a great all awesome. So if any listeners want to learn more, it looks like the website is www spelled out on e16 cannabis org. Awesome, so I appreciate the crafts Alliance pushing that and it makes good sense.
You’re doing the math and yeah, it makes perfect sense to me. And it is forward-thinking where we’re looking at a world where we’re moving past this state by state limited Pro… A bit on the scenario, right? And so just to finish up the thought… So, the aim is, again, there is definitely a path through the Republican Party and as my name being Adam Smith, I get to talk about capitalism and markets, and we get a lot of really good response to that as well. But for the Democrats, if the Democrats take over the Senate, I believe we can make this such an obvious part of protecting the state industries that we can get licensing at transfers amended to whatever they decide to pass in Congress to protect the state industries. But if they just take over the White House, I believe that we can get a democratically appointed Attorney General, will almost certainly write a new memo protecting the state industries explicitly, and we wanna make sure that this is included and again, we’re not talking ’bout opening the gates for anyone to send it anywhere. We’re talking about licensed Interstate transfers, between consenting states and I… And there’s a consumer side to this, which is, consumers in all of these states are about legalized deserve access to the best products in the world from Oregon and California and elsewhere are why exactly would we stick? You can get the best of everything in New York. Why would they not why would they have to be stuck with with cannabis, that was third rate.
Sure I… Yeah, so, if listeners really wanna get involved, does it make sense for them to reach out to their senators and members of Congress and tell them to support this?
Yeah, so I, I… Yes, that yes, he has yet.
You had… The other thing is the exciting thing is that now that we’ve sort of gotten the Oregon side nailed down, I try to be careful and knock on wood, when I say that, ’cause I love to pass it, but it feels like we have a lot of momentum and we’re very confident we’re gonna pass this and our Governor Brown is gonna design it and we are hopeful that she will stand up and be a national leader on this issue. But the next phase is we are, I am now, we are now starting to bring in our partners. Whether that’s in California to start talking with folks about supporting export, because their over-supply is gonna dwarf organs over supply in a couple of years.
Yeah, I and I, or… But also, skates to find our allies where there’s a desire to bring cannabis and yeah, I… And so we need a partner once we have a partner that is advocating to bring it in, now we have the German Federal question that we can bring to the federal government and whether that’s lobby in Congress or an attorney general, and that’s everything so awesome Les. Reach out to us. If you are anywhere in the country, and this interest you from the export or the import side, we wanna talk to you and we’re in building the network for this.
And so speaking of talking to our law makers before we wrap up the show here in a minute, of course, wanna talk about NCIS annual lobby days. It is happening May 21st, 22nd, and 23rd in Washington DC and we have hundreds of “ncia members from all over the country that have signed up and are joining us to walk the halls of Congress to educate our members of Congress on all kinds of issues that affect our industry like banking… 280E, social equity, the CBD veterans, medical access and exportation is probably gonna come up to… So, I in…
I also wanna point out that the craft cannabis Alliance, as well as the Oregon retailers of Cannabis Association, are part of NCIA’s Allied Association Program.
Happily, so yeah.
So just briefly tell us about what it’s like and what the purpose of the program is from your perspective, and how it’s gonna benefit our industry.
Oh, it’s terrific because you can organize in your state, and because the industry is so state segmented, it’s very easy to be isolated in what you’re doing, and somebody there needs to be an entity like If NCIA didn’t exist, it would have to be created, right? There needs to be an entity that is looking to pull all of this together, all of the folks working on this and engaged in this and it just makes everything we do more powerful. I don’t know, it’s also an incredible knowledge, resource and experience resource that we can bounce things off folks who are… Got in it as well, so I… And I’ll be better.
And you are a resource too, it’s a mutual exchange of information, we learn from you… Boots on the ground, and we give view resources to help your association thrive as well and give you federal advocacy information. So thank you for being a part of the program. It’s going well. Rachel Kurtz is our program manager for that and awesome by the way, a love Rachel. Yes, we’ve got a lot of good industry veterans here and in our industry, including yourself, so thank you for being involved in drug policy and cannabis reform for as long as you have, and we’ve made some progress over the years as we can see.
Yeah, when I first got involved, I think 19% of the country or 20% of the country thought cannabis should be legal. And we were the crazy radicals. It turns out we were just pretty mature. Moderates yes, yes. I had friends, 10-15 years ago, who were a little afraid to associate with me when I started talking about cannabis ’cause they have government jobs in DC and I’m like, “It’ll be fine”, and now one’s everyone’s pretty much like, “Oh cool,” so yeah, anyway, off we go into the future and the future is bright, I think. So thanks again and if any listeners want more information, had to craft cannabis Alliance dot org to connect with Adam.
The one is a… Yeah, thanks for being on the show today, I am really appreciate it, definitely, thank you so much and thanks to NCIA, for everything you guys, do thank you.
Can’t wait to be back in Oregon, soon. It’s one of my favorite states. Alright, okay, thanks everybody for tuning in until next time.