Oregon Update: Cannabis Audit Coming—and Jeff Sessions, too

Published on September 19, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Gothic style arches tracery St Johns bridge Portland Oregon in the morning mist decorated with autumnal yellowed trees.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to speak with law enforcement officials in Portland, OR, on Tuesday afternoon, to address the ongoing controversy around so-called sanctuary cities.

While the speech, set for 1 p.m. at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office in Northwest Portland, is likely to be all about immigration matters, the visit will put Sessions—a vocal critic of both medical and adult-use legalization—smack dab in the middle of cannabis country.

While in town, Sessions is scheduled to meet privately with US Attorney Billy Williams and local police officers, including Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, who heads the Portland Police Association.

The attorney general has, in recent months, leveled sharp criticism at Oregon’s legal cannabis industry, alleging, among other claims, that the state is still a major player in the country’s illegal cannabis market.

Session’s comments, which also included claims that cannabis extraction since legalization has fueled a rise in home explosions, were met with heavy criticism by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton.

Much of Sessions’ criticism was based on a preliminary Oregon State Police report, which was still in draft form at the time. In a letter to Sessions, Brown said the document was flawed and shouldn’t be used to draw conclusions about the state’s cannabis system.

“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,” Brown wrote, adding that the report does not reflect the “on the ground” reality in Oregon.

While protests are expected around Sessions’ sanctuary-city speech, it’s not yet clear how or whether residents will respond to the attorney general’s threatening stance toward cannabis. We’ll update this story if Sessions’ visit takes a turn toward cannabis.

Oregon’s Cannabis Industry to be Audited

In other Oregon news, The Oregonian’s Noelle Crombie reports that the state’s cannabis industry will get its first audit from the secretary of state. The audit will look at how the state has been regulating its cannabis industry.

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One focus of the audit will be how the state keeps track of the largely cash-based industry, Crombie writes, as most banks have not yet open their doors to cannabis-industry clients. Auditors will also evaluate whether the Oregon Liquor Control Commission provides timely and appropriate guidance to cannabis businesses.

Earlier this year, an outside audit of the state’s cannabis industry found that regulating cannabis, coupled with legislative changes to the cannabis program, “have created a strain” on the commission, which had been focused on alcohol matters prior to cannabis legalization.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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