Pubdate: Mon, 22 Jun 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Patrick Moen
Note: Patrick Moen is managing director and general counsel for 
Privateer Holdings, Inc.


I commend The Oregonian/OregonLive and reporter Noelle Crombie for 
the series "A Tainted High," which found that multiple samples of 
medical marijuana purchased in Oregon, intended for patients who are 
often immunocompromised, tested positive for harmful pesticides.

The Oregonian not only revealed the extent of the contamination of 
medical marijuana products, but also exposed a weak regulatory 
system, hamstrung by inadequate rules, a lack of authority and 
ineffective enforcement. To their credit, some producers responded 
immediately and responsibly, pulling contaminated products off their 
shelves when presented with The Oregonian's laboratory test results.

They hold themselves to high standards, even if the state doesn't.

That can change. It must change. Oregon has an opportunity to become 
a national model for responsibly ending the prohibition of cannabis 
by developing a recreational and medical system that protects 
patients and consumers, eliminates the black market and grows state 
revenues. But the state's window of opportunity is closing quickly.

Over the next few weeks, Oregon's elected leaders will be asked to 
sign off on legislation intended to guide the legal and safe 
cultivation and sales of cannabis in Oregon. It's critically 
important that these leaders do everything they can to get it right, 
and for the public to hold them accountable.

I know from experience that a safe and secure recreational and 
medical cannabis system in Oregon must require seed-to-sale tracking, 
security and surveillance systems, and access to enough capital to 
allow producers, processors and retailers to innovate and expand. I 
know this because I spent 10 years serving as a criminal investigator 
and supervisor with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 
including two years running the DEA's interagency drug task force in 
Portland, and today I serve as a managing director at Privateer 
Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm focused on the legal 
cannabis industry and the only American company to own and operate a 
federally licensed producer of medical marijuana (in Canada).

We have all watched how the states of Washington and Colorado have 
struggled to get it right, and the large number of businesses that have failed.

As we've seen in Washington, if taxes are set too high it will 
virtually guarantee that the black market can undercut prices offered 
by legal operators. Market restrictions, such as residency 
requirements, will make it difficult for legitimate entrepreneurs and 
will simply encourage less-scrupulous operators to participate.

The conclusion of the Oregonian's investigation is clear: A 
regulatory system can only work if government establishes and 
enforces clear and effective rules. That means establishing and 
enforcing licensing, inspection, tracking, childproof packaging and 
advertising requirements.

Without clear standards that hold growers, processors and retailers 
accountable, the product will be susceptible to contamination and 
diversion to both the black market and to minors.

Voters' overwhelming endorsement of Measure 91 last November marked a 
critical moment for Oregon. The next few weeks, and decisions made in 
Salem, are just as critical. Oregon can get this right. Oregon can 
have a competitive, well-regulated market. Oregon can be a national 
model for other states that follow, but the state's leaders need to act quickly.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom