The Oregon Cannabis Commission will be in Bend from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to discuss medial marijuana at the Deschutes County Health Services Stan Owen Room, 2577 NE Courtney Drive. For more details go to https://bit.ly/30qXbvt.

Retailers are beginning to feel the sting of a shortage of fresh Oregon cannabis, harvested in the past three to six months, despite a surplus on the market.

The shortage is causing prices to rise, if only slightly, retailers and growers say.

At a meeting Tuesday evening, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission acknowledged it had heard about a shortage, but only anecdotally, said Steven Marks, OLCC executive director.

“We’ve gotten reports from retailers that there is less flower available on the market right now, but I’ve not confirmed that it’s a proliferation statewide,” Marks said in an interview.

Earlier this year, the OLCC reported that there’s enough cannabis in Oregon’s seed-to-sale tracking system to supply the state with cannabis for the next six years. It’s unclear whether the oversupply has been absorbed by the industry making oils and extracts; it’s been diverted into the black market, or if consumers taste have matured and they only want freshly harvested cannabis.

Another harvest season starts in September at outdoor growing sites, and more cannabis will enter the tracking system.

“It raises the question of where is it flowing,” Marks said. “I’m not sure we’ll be able to explain that.”

Indoor growing facilities harvest year-round and generally fetch a slightly higher price. Consumers perceive indoor-grown cannabis at a higher value, growers say. The price per pound today is about $500 to $350 compared to more than $2,000 more than a year ago, Marks said.

The marketplace is reacting with prices that are stabilizing, said Kale Gray, Tokyo Starfish CEO. Prices are no longer at rock bottom, and the increases are not significant enough to increase prices on the shelves.

“Vendors are running out of product and we are trying to find more vendors,” Gray said.

Because of the oversupply the OLCC temporarily stopped processing new grower applications in June 2018. Last month lawmakers made that permanent and issued a two-year moratorium on all new growing operation applications.

In Deschutes County, there are 91 marijuana submitted license applications for growing facilities. Statewide there are more than 1,138 active producer licenses issued, according to OLCC’s most current data.

The issue of a shortage came up Tuesday evening when the OLCC made its first appearance in a series of listening sessions around the state. The next session is in Ashland on July 17.

Grower and retailer Tim Blake, The Vth Farms manager, said that fresh cannabis tastes better and that over time cannabis degrades in flavor and potency.

In some cases, Blake said, older cannabis can even turn into a different compound that just makes people sleepier and neutralizes any sativa and indica strain effects.

“In our shop, we only carry fresh cannabis, almost immediately after it was harvested,” Blake said. “We grow some of our own product, but 75 percent comes from other farms. There are people who grow craft cannabis, and we’re always looking to purchase that.”

Kenneth Shestack, a Bend resident, is one of those customers. He bought some oils and fresh flower on Wednesday.

“It makes a big difference if the flower (bud) is fresh. That’s always better,” Shestack said. “I like to buy oils, or flower if there is something really good.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

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