Pubdate: Fri, 18 May 2018
Source: Hillsboro Argus, The (OR)
Copyright: 2018 The Hillsboro Argus
Author: Billy J. Williams


After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued his memorandum on
marijuana in January, I committed to taking a methodical and
thoughtful approach to developing an enforcement strategy for Oregon.
In early February, our marijuana summit brought together more than 130
people from 70 organizations representing a wide range of interests,
values, and perspectives.

Among those in attendance were Gov, Kate Brown, representatives from
14 U.S. Attorney's offices, Oregon congressional delegation staff, and
members of the Oregon Legislature. The summit featured presentations
by state officials, policymakers, federal and state law enforcement
agencies, industry representatives, adversely affected landowners,
public health organizations, banking executives and tribal leaders.

Although participants offered diverse views, the summit also revealed
agreement on a number of important issues.

First, there is an urgent need for transparency and regularly-reported
data from the state. We must have comprehensive and accurate data
analyzing Oregon's legal and illegal marijuana markets and their
impact on public safety, health, youth, land use, and livability.
Second, the state has not devoted sufficient resources to regulatory
enforcement and oversight. And finally, too much surplus marijuana is
being produced and exported out of state.

Many summit participants, including officials from our office and the
marijuana industry, expressed concern with the state's current ability
to regulate the market. Industry representatives continue to decry the
state's failure to limit the amount of marijuana grown. This
overproduction encourages illegal black-market sales.

Producing and sharing comprehensive industry data will help
stakeholders collectively address all of these issues. Tax revenue and
job creation statistics make headlines, but those advantages fail to
account for the collateral consequences imposed on communities
affected by this largely under-regulated industry.

As the primary federal law enforcement official in Oregon, I will not
make broad proclamations of blanket immunity from prosecution to those
who violate federal law. At the same time, our office's resources are
not infinite. In light of these facts, and using the lessons learned
from the summit and our partnerships with all affected stakeholders,
the following will be the marijuana enforcement priorities for the
District of Oregon.

First, we will prioritize federal marijuana violations involving
overproduction and interstate trafficking. This priority will be of
particular importance to us as long as data continues to show that
Oregon suffers from a formidable overproduction problem.

Second, we will prioritize violations that threaten public health,
with a particular emphasis on access or exposure to minors. I would
note that this priority fully aligns with state law, which strictly
prohibits marijuana use by individuals under 21 years old.

Third, we will prioritize violations that involve a substantial risk
of violence or other threats to public safety, especially those
involving firearms. Threats of violence or the improper use of
firearms in conjunction with the use, production, or sale of marijuana
will not be tolerated.

Fourth, we will prioritize violations that fuel other criminal
activity such as racketeering, organized crime, federal income tax
evasion or money laundering.

And finally, we will prioritize violations that adversely affect
federal public land or other natural resources, including water, air,
and listed species. Oregon's livability transcends the interests of
any one industry.

I'm sharing our strategy so Oregonians know the types of marijuana
cases we will prioritize for both civil enforcement and criminal
prosecution. Rest assured, marijuana-related federal prosecutions will
be assessed using the same sound judgment and discretion we use when
deciding to charge any other case.

Our marijuana enforcement strategy will evolve over time based largely
on two critical factors: the resources the state is able and willing
to commit to monitor and enforce its regulatory scheme and the
availability of data that can be used to measure the state's progress
in addressing regulatory gaps.

Put simply, our strategy will be flexible based upon data and the need
to address public safety. As always, we will continue building on the
long tradition in Oregon of carrying out law enforcement in close
coordination with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners.

Billy J. Williams is the United States Attorney for the District of
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MAP posted-by: Matt