By “Pioneer” Pete Gendron
Oregon Cannabis Connection
I’m not a jock.
I only know enough about sports to be able to converse with the locals when I’m in town. I don’t have a “team,”, and I don’t know who’s the hottest player right now. So it may be surprising to read the next sentence.
Oregon’s marijuana policy right now looks exactly like the Ducks’ and Beavers’ seasons.
That’s right. For those of you similarly in our own world of cannabis, let me explain.
The Ducks and Beavers started out the year with high hopes, just like our new regulatory structure. Our college football teams began the year with a solid foundation, just like our marijuana programs. Our favored universities were projected to go far and do well, just like the evolving regulations that came from the last two legislative sessions. We had star players and famous faces who were here to get the job done—a big job, in the face of unrelenting opposition. We had overwhelming confidence from the people we were playing for.
Then the season ended in not just one, but a series of crushing defeats and upsets that nobody predicted.
For the football fans, it can be blamed on injuries or a type of death-by-chance. It can be blamed on coaching or coordination. All I know for sure is the Ducks and Beavers fans usually argue about which team is better, and this year they’re arguing about which team is worse.
Even the “Civil War” game was a disaster. No tailgate parties here, and no real winner, either.
So why the sports analogy from a guy who admittedly can’t name a coach or QB? Because that’s what the state has done to our marijuana programs.
Just like with our teams, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But I’m going to assign blame equally for damage done to our teams—medical and recreational. The state Department of Justice (DOJ) shoulders the lion’s share of the burden. For a bunch of people who had the “hands-off” approach of Measure 67 and the medical program for 17 years, they came in like a freshman coach who knows it all and is fixing things for our benefit—or make us better. Wide-eyed outsiders who see the world one way—while our team lives a life they have never experienced—and solve problems that aren’t there.
But there’s plenty of debate about who else may be at fault.
Let’s look at the OLCC. A tax grab is one thing: designing plays for the benefit of the state (their team sponsor), which they knew would get players injured, sidelined or even out for the season—that was completely unexpected. In football, it is against the rules to act in a manner that is deliberately designed to injure the competition. Sure, injuries happen, but not out of malice. Apparently the OLCC didn’t get the memo.
But they’re a bunch of bureaucrats. They regulate a given item—in this case, marijuana—until it doesn’t sell anymore. Then they consider their job done.
And speaking of bureaucrats, let’s not forget the OHA role in all of this. Although Measure 91 said in three places that adult use regulation was not to affect our longstanding medical program, the OHA, happily watched as the legislature steamrolled patients and essentially push them to the OLCC.
If we call the OMMP the Ducks, and the OLCC the Beavers, it’s clear who the victor was in this Civil War game.
But why? Why did the medical team coach throw the game at the cost of our patients’ access?
The OHA is run and managed by people who are openly hostile to the OMMP and do not believe marijuana is medication, and who appoint subordinates who are incompetent and do not care about doing their jobs. There—I said it.
But why did “coach” throw the game? Because the team owner—the legislature—told her to.
Not all of our legislators believe the OMMP is effective (it is), beneficial to public health and safety (it is), and good for the Oregon bottom line budget (it is), but they do have another reason. Money.
The biggest disaster of the last legislative session was our Oregon Representatives and Senators voting against the will of the people as expressed in Measure 91 and against the interests of Oregonians by allowing out-of-state money to remove the residency requirement for new cannabis businesses.
This season was a sad one for Oregon both in football and cannabis law. We lost. All of us. No matter which team you support.
I could impart more bad analogies on what the state wants to do with hemp, or the fact that our DOJ is representing the feds, not Oregonians. But that’s another article.
So let’s focus on having the legislators do what the Ducks did. Remove an under-performing coach and go find some players who will really work for our team.
Pioneer Pete is not a sports fan, and doesn’t play one on TV.
© 2016 Oregon Cannabis Connection. All rights reserved.