Inside Oregon's Massive Marijuana 'Surplus'

By Victoria Kim 08/21/19

Just how much of Oregon's alleged six year marijuana 'surplus' is usable product? 

Oregon's massive marijuana surplus
ID 107917366 © Joshua Rainey |

In January, Oregon officials reported that the state had more than six years’ worth of legal marijuana to satisfy demand. However, according to Vice, much of that “oversupply” is unusable product.

The same agency that released the six-year stat, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), which regulates the marijuana industry, also admitted that not all of the extra weed would be adequate enough to sell on the legal market.

“Almost certainly some amount of the existing inventory in the recreational system will never be sold,” the OLCC stated in its January legislative report. “It may become too stale to be sold or is of insufficient quality to compete in the current market environment. In fact, anecdotally some of it may already be waste that has not yet been disposed of.”

To address the apparent surplus, Oregon legislators enacted legislation this year to limit the number of suppliers when there is a surplus and allow producers to sell cannabis out of state.

Out With The Old

But Vice cited accounts of “hundreds of pounds of weed rotting in trash bags,” bringing to light the many reasons that producers may hesitate to dispose of excess product that’s going bad. According to the OLCC, a quarter of the “usable marijuana” flower in the legal production system is from before the 2018 harvest.

“How much of the official inventory is usually old product or marginal trim is a big question,” writes Vice’s Jon Walker. “Rules on disposal of extra weed, optimism about low quality product eventually having some value, and the raw emotional attachment many longtime growers have to their crop have created incentives to rarely—if ever—throw out flower.”

A procurement manager at Hydra Distribution, Tim Garrison, explained to Vice that there’s a reason disposing of marijuana is a last priority—it is a “pain in the butt to waste out.”

Regulations require the disposal of marijuana to be done in a very “specific manner,” and has to be done on camera.

The result is “hundreds of pounds” of marijuana waste, “just sitting in big black bags” but still accounted for in the legal marijuana supply.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr