Israel_Patterson

Dear Pot Lawyer,

Why do edibles seem stronger in Washington than in Oregon?

It isn’t your imagination—Washington’s edible products really are more potent than down here in Oregon. Generally, Oregon has opted for a much more restrictive policy toward the manufacture and distribution of recreational edible products than our neighbors to the north. This broad focus on consumer safety has taken the form of strict testing and packaging requirements designed to ensure purity, fully inform consumers, and prohibit advertising that is unusually appealing to children.

Under this framework, Oregon’s maximum THC concentration limit for recreational edibles is only half of what Washington allows. Oregon law currently sets the maximum concentration for recreational edibles at 5mg of THC per serving, and each package offered for sale must have no more than 50mg of THC in total. In contrast, Washington consumers can purchase edible products with 10mg per serving and 100mg per package.

Oregon’s potency limitations can be found in Oregon Administrative Rule 333-007-0210. (An “OAR” is just a rule promulgated by an Oregon agency rather than the State legislature.) In this case, OAR 333-007-0210 was enacted by the Oregon Health Authority, which designated it as a temporary rule, so Oregon’s final edible regulations are still very much in the air.

Proponents of the current potency limitation are concerned that the delay between eating an edible and when it actually takes effect can be dangerous to new users. Proponents will also point out that reducing potency protects children that may accidentally consume edibles, which will likely tempt children regardless of any advertising and branding restrictions. Still, experienced consumers may wonder why Oregon doesn’t simply adopt the national trend and match Washington. If it is safe enough for Washington, the reasoning goes, it should be safe enough for Oregon.

While we wait for the Oregon Health Authority to promulgate a final rule, only Oregon’s medical consumers can enjoy products as potent as those for sale in Washington. Under the temporary rule, Oregon’s medical users can find products without specific serving limitations, and with a total per package limitation of 100mg, just like in Washington. The theory is that experienced medical users are less likely to make rookie mistakes and are less likely to leave their edibles out where children can find them.

Before any local recreational users get any ideas about making a day trip to Washington to circumvent the temporary rule, remember that transporting cannabis across state lines remains a crime under Washington, Oregon, and federal law. If you want to (legally) see how Washington’s edibles compare to the selection at your local dispensary, you will have to consume in Washington.


Got a question? Email us at potlawyer@portlandmercury.com. And remember that if you have a legal problem, contact a lawyer! Our educational musings cannot be relied upon as specific legal advice.