A new report by the Oregon Liquor Control Commision (OLCC) gives us a clearer answer to the question "how many cannabis growers are there and how much cannabis did the state produce in 2019?" (Albeit with data limited to licensed recreational growers, and not your “four plants” or however many your neighborhood dealer has been growing in his garage.)
The “2019 Recreational Marijuana SB 218 Legislative Report” refers to Senate Bill 218, which Governor Kate Brown introduced and later signed into law on June 19, 2019. As the report explains: “With growing concern regarding oversupply and out-of-state diversion continuing to increase, Governor Kate Brown introduced Senate Bill 218 in the 2019 regular legislative session in an effort to curb marijuana production. SB 218 proposed to place a moratorium on new producer licenses until January 2022.”
The reports provided some interesting key points:
• Between January 2016 and the date SB 218 was signed into law, the OLCC had received 3,034 producer applications, an average of 72 applications per month.
• As of December 12, 2019, the OLCC is processing producer applications received on or after February 17, 2018. 511 producer applications are awaiting assignment for investigation. 142 are currently assigned to investigators at varying stages of processing.
• Between April 29, 2016 and December 1, 2019, OLCC issued 1,387 recreational producer licenses.
• The 2019 outdoor harvest season was the largest since recreational licensing began in 2016.
• Between January 1 and November 30, 2019, OLCC producers harvested more than 5.7 million pounds (approximately 2,600 metric tons) of wet weight. This represents a 16 percent increase over the same time period in 2018.
• The quantity sold of usable marijuana increased by approximately 25 percent.
• Sales of extracts, concentrates, edibles, and tinctures collectively rose approximately 50 percent.
• Wholesale prices per pound of usable marijuana increased considerably beginning in spring and summer 2019, almost doubling from approximately $650 in April 2019 to $1,200 in November 2019.
• The report adds that retail prices for “usable marijuana” increased slightly—16 percent—between June and November 2019, going from $3.00 to $3.50 median price per gram.
The report also addresses some of the issues with the extensive backlog of producer applications, but doesn’t draw any connections to the EVALI crisis, such as factoring in consumers potentially swapping edibles for vaping, etc. The median price of $3.50 a gram benefits consumers, but puts the squeeze on profits for retailers. And that $3.50 price is median—there are certainly plenty of $10-$12 a gram offerings on dispensary shelves.
The reports authors recognize SB 218 was so recently passed as to not have had a significant impact on the 2019 report, writing “because SB 218 was adopted just six months ago and the steps to implement its provisions are in progress, there is little information available to evaluate the effects on the industry as a whole.”