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Industry and Activists Call On Western Governors to Explore Cannabis Interstate Commerce

The group of activists and cannabis business owners is asking four Western states governors to look into federal approval for interstate marijuana trade. It could be a step that will help pave the way for eventual legalization. 

Alliance for Sensible Markets published a public letter asking for advice from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding how it would respond to two or more legal states that have approved adult or medical cannabis. According to the letter, federal cannabis legalization, at this stage seems almost inevitable, could present an economic opportunity for West-based cannabis producers.

“When the federal government legalizes cannabis, the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that producers across our four states will have non-discriminatory access to every legal adult-use and medical market in the country,” the letter reads. “That will be worth billions of dollars per year to our states’ economies, increasing state revenues and spurring investment, expansion, business formation, and jobs and could, if it happens soon, save thousands of small farms and businesses from extinction.”

Alliance for Sensible Markets in Portland is a coalition of producers and activists who include the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This organization, which was established last year has two major goals.

The first is to create an interstate marijuana commerce agreement between two or more states that have legalized cannabis. A second step would be to create and implement a pathway to federal approval for the plan.

Interstate Commerce will set the scene for a National Cannabis Industry

Interstate cannabis commerce, when paired with a federal policy that allows state-legal marijuana businesses to continue operating without interference from the government, could prove to be more politically viable to achieve many of the legalization goals. Adam Smith, founder and President of Alliance for Sensible Markets believes interstate commerce with cannabis could connect western cannabis producers to consumers who are now legal in these markets.

“Thousands of small farms and businesses across the Pacific Northwest, in communities that have depended on the economics of cannabis for generations, face economic catastrophe as they choke on a glut of some of the world’s best and most efficiently produced cannabis,” Smith wrote in an email to Chronic News. “This is not an oversupply problem, it’s a market access problem. Meanwhile, millions of patients and consumers in legal states where cannabis is expensive and environmentally costly to grow will be stuck in illicit markets for years, and thousands of potential retail, distribution, delivery and other businesses will be stuck on the sidelines waiting for a steady but limited and overpriced supply chain to emerge in their states.”

This group believes that the current system, which sees each state legalizing marijuana operate its own contained markets for manufacturing, distribution, and sales, cannot be sustained. The coalition is seeking advice from the federal government and not waiting to legalize cannabis nationwide. This will allow them to build a sustainable industry that serves all parties.

“We believe that the simple act of asking the question will significantly advance the national conversation around the future of legal cannabis, and that positive guidance from DOJ will spur changes beneficial to both producer and consumer states, as well as to patients, consumers, public safety, social equity, small businesses and environmental sustainability in any legal or medical states that choose to regulate and engage in commerce in advance of federal legalization,” the letter concludes.

Smith states that Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Colorado are four of the early cannabis pioneers. They have the unique opportunity to influence federal policy.

“Federal Legalization will open markets, but waiting for the federal government to ‘fix’ cannabis has never been a winning strategy,” Smith explained. “It has always been the states taking the lead on reform. Positive DOJ guidance will open the path to a more rational, just, and sustainable industry now, in states that choose to participate in commerce.”

Alliance for Sensible Markets invites more cannabis businesses, consumers and others to sign the petition and will deliver the letter to the governors of the Western States next month.