Once Again, Oregon Weed Dealers Praise Oregon Lawmakers


“Ya gotta hand it to ‘em,” Johnny said. “This legalization they cooked up is giving me, like, two thirds of the state!”

Johnny is the pseudonym of a prolific eastern Oregon weed dealer, or, as I like to call it, “West Idaho”. I coined the term to describe the pot-hating, rural, conservative eastern Oregon counties that have been granted permission to operate under a different set of commercial marijuana laws than their western pot-tolerating counterparts.

“Congrats,” I told him, “you’re the king grower of West Idaho!”

He laughed. We’d both grown up in actual Idaho, a land where merely being high, absent any possession, is a misdemeanor crime. In our younger days, we’d often drive Interstate 84 eastbound to Ontario, Oregon, right across the Snake River, to buy our pot pipes, because Idaho’s paraphernalia laws were so strict there were no headshops anywhere near us.

“I just don’t get it,” Johnny continued. “Marijuana is legal all throughout Oregon. Anybody can possess an ounce of it anywhere!”

“Or, really, up to two ounces if they don’t mind a ticket,” I reminded him. “Oregon decriminalized up to twice the legalized amounts.”

“Right. But then they go and ban any commercial grows or pot shops? I mean, they don’t like my kind, right, us so-called ‘black market dealers’, right?” Johnny used the air-quotes gesture as he said it.

“But then they give the entire marijuana business to you,” I concluded for him.

“No, dude, even better than that!” Johnny jumped up, he was so excited. “They took my criminal customers and made them legal to possess, they took my criminal couriers and made them legal to possess, they made any smell on my couriers or evidence of my grows harder to bust, and they stopped any legal business from setting up here to compete with me!” He took a bite off a Slim Jim he seemed to procure out of thin air. “They gave me the best possible deal – legal weed with illegal profits!”

“Then you’re going to love what OLCC did this week,” I told him, referring to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission that writes the regulations for the commercial marijuana industry. “They are going to allow deliveries of marijuana, but they won’t let the couriers carry more than one hundred dollars-worth of marijuana at a time…”

Johnny couldn’t help but interrupt. A fleck of Slim Jim barely missed my left eye as he sputtered, “Wait a minute. A hundred bucks-worth? Like less than half an ounce? How could you possibly make that work? You’d waste all this time and money going back and forth to the supply. Yeah, let’s burn more gasoline trying to get a weed to the people, that makes sense.”

“Wait, I didn’t even tell you the best part.” I paused to get Johnny’s full attention. “They’ve banned any deliveries to localities that ban marijuana retail.”

“Ha!” Johnny exclaimed. “Legal deliveries, but not to West Idaho? Thank you very much, OLCC, for wiping out the only other form of legal competition I might’ve had.”

“Well, maybe not,” I replied. “You know Über, right? What’s to stop someone from setting up Über-style weed deliveries? Call it Düber. If the driver is an adult, he can possess an ounce of weed. He’s legal to drive that ounce of weed anywhere in the state. Düber sends him to meet another adult and gifts that ounce of weed to that adult, perfectly legal under the law. Nobody has exchanged anything of consideration and all Düber did was perform a matchmaking service.”

Johnny stopped chewing on Slim Jim and just eyed me for a second. “Who do you know that does mobile apps?”

By banning marijuana sales, the eastern part of Oregon aka West Idaho, encourages illicit sales of cannabis.

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show focused on the evolution of the legal marijuana industry in the United States. The program is airing live at 3pm Pacific Time from Portland, Oregon, on CannabisRadio.com, with podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 with Oregon NORML, then in 2009 went on to work for National NORML, and found and direct Portland NORML.in 2015.