Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday noted in her letter that Sessions’ July 24 letter to her referred to a draft report from the Oregon State Police that concluded large amounts of the state’s marijuana were being illegally diverted to the black market in other states, reports Andrew Selsky at The Associated Press.
Gov. Brown told Sessions in her letter that the medical and recreational marijuana industry in Oregon has raised more than $60.2 million in revenue and created more than 16,000 jobs.
Sessions Has ‘Serious Concerns’
Sessions’ letter had said the draft report by the OSP “raised serious questions about the efficacy of marijuana ‘regulatory structures’ in the state.” The Attorney General, after reading the state police draft report, said he was skeptical, reports Pete Danko at the Portland Business Journal.
That report claimed Oregon was growing far more weed that it could ever consume. It included a July 2016 assessment by a consulting firm that “only 30 percent of the market activity is captured in legal transactions.”
The draft report concluded that Oregon has an “expansive geographic footprint” on the black market, with six counties supplying much of what is shipped out of state, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The Oregon State Police denounced the draft when it learned it had been leaked.
Governor and Police Chief: Report Is Invalid
Gov. Brown and State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said that draft report was invalid, and was incorrect both in its data and its conclusions.
Brown, in her Tuesday reply, said the report “does not (and frankly does not purport to), reflect the ‘on the ground’ reality in Oregon in 2017.”
“The Oregon State Police determined that the draft report required significant additional work and revision because the data was inaccurate and heavily extrapolated conclusions were incorrect,” Gov. Brown wrote.
“By using incomplete data, inaccurate research and unreliable sources, the flawed document drew unsubstantiated conclusions about cannabis legalization in Oregon to serve the author’s personal agenda,” Brown’s office said.
Report Heavy On Opinion: OSP Captain
Ravi Channell is the analyst who helped draft the report. He’s hardly impartial, as he works for the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a federal agency focusing on drug enforcement.
The document was heavy on opinion and “suggestive words,” Oregon State Police Capt. Bill Fugate said on Tuesday.
“As an agency, our job is to be objective and to present information that will be used by healthcare workers, public safety and policy makers,” Capt. Fugate said. “Our job is not to have an opinion.”
‘Engage With Us’
Sessions’ letter had come in reply to an April 3 letter from Gov. Brown, joined by the governors of Alaska, Washington and Colorado, imploring the Trump Administration “to engage with us before embarking on any changes to the regulatory and enforcement systems.”
New laws in Oregon, including tracking all legal weed from seed to sale, will help cut down on diversion into the black market, according to Gov. Brown.
The Governor also noted she recently signed into law legislation making it easier to prosecute the illegal import and export of cannabis products.
Washington, Alaska Governors Also Push Back
The Governors of Washington and Alaska also recently pushed back against the Trump Administration’s July 24 response to their April letter, defending their efforts to regulate the cannabis industry.
Alaska Gov. Bill Waller wrote to Sessions earlier this month, asking the Justice Department to maintain the more hands-off approach of the Obama Administration when it comes to green states.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Sessions’ claims were “outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.”