Oregon residents voted to make cannabis legal for adult discretionary or “recreational” consumption in addition to medical use. That vote happened in 2014—it’s taken this long to get the legal product out to the shops. And the product is in danger of not being licensed in time for retailers to open their doors on schedule.
According to Gary Ward, administrator of the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP), there are not sufficient resources to deal with the last-minute rush of cannabis lab applications. According to Ward, he asked for three full-time employees and received none.
What will that mean?
If the labs can’t get accredited, product can’t be tested, so there will be no product. If there is no product, retailers will have nothing to sell, no sales tax will be collected…and black-market dealers will have an open field to play in. It’s the end of 2016, so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise to lawmakers and administrators. They’ve had time to get their act together.
The plan is that dispensaries will distribute only medical cannabis, which has specific protocols and regulations attached, while retailers will be allowed to distribute the “recreational” products under separate guidelines. This is supposed to happen by the end of the year.
Before being sold on the legal market, cannabis must first be laboratory tested. The labs measure potency and detect the presence of pesticides, microbes, and solvents. It’s a little more complicated than the current standards for produce, which usually involve testing for pesticides and harmful bacteria only. But the infrastructure is already there. Why in the world aren’t they using the pre-existing agencies to get the job done on time?
That cannabis is being treated so differently from other products can likely be linked to myths, fallacies, and propaganda carefully designed to make people believe cannabis is a “dangerous narcotic” as opposed to a helpful medicinal herb and mild social relaxant. Officials are people too, and they drag their feet if they have to do something they think is bad, or that they’re being influenced and motivated not to do.
It’s only by sustaining this mass ignorance and hysterical fear that Big Pharma and Big Booze can maintain their monopolistic supremacy in the medical and recreational spheres of society. Even in Oregon, there are those who don’t realize the plant’s incredible safety record or its non-toxic nature in comparison to pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol—even sugar.
It’s up to state officials to fix the laboratory accreditation problem. If they don’t, they stand to lose approximately $25 million every six months. Now that this number has been brought to the governor’s attention, it’s likely the issues will be rectified swiftly. Too bad they didn’t plan ahead.
It’s time for lawmakers to stop treating cannabis like a foreign and volatile substance and start treating it like any other herb or plant used for food and sustenance. It’s not a danger, and it’s less risky than apples treated with poisonous chemical pesticides. Let the Agricultural Department do its job.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber Boone considers writing the cornerstone of communication. She interviews MMA (mixed martial arts) athletes for CombatPress.com and opines on MMA at FightItOut.com. She’s passionate about helping folks tell their stories and making the world a better place, which includes working to win the freedom of Americans to partake of the herb. When not writing or playing beach volleyball, she can be found at her day job—for now. Follow Amber on Twitter @thruthetrees11.