Marijuana terpenes — flavorings distilled from the plant — fetch high prices online, but Oregon processors can’t access the market, said Caleb Mata, CEO of Oregon Genetics.
That’s because Oregon law states that any product derived from cannabis is considered marijuana and cannot be sold outside of the state, even if it doesn’t contain THC, said Mark Pettinger,Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokesman.
Mata, whose business is based in Corvallis, wants the OLCC’s help convincing state lawmakers to change Oregon’s definition of marijuana to focus on THC. He raised the issue at an OLCC industry listening session in Bend in July.
“I can’t see why Oregon trapped themselves in a box so that we can’t sell any byproduct outside of the state,” Mata said. “It’s necessary to the industry.”
He thinks selling terpenes and possibly other byproducts could help Oregon address its oversupply.
“In order to make any changes, we’ll need a legislative fix,” said Hugh Palcic, a commissioner at the OLCC representing Central Oregon. “It’s worthy of having a conversation. We’re open minded.”
Mata said marijuana terpenes draw high prices because they’re not available in states where marijuana remains illegal, but CBD vaping products are popular.
CBD vaping cartridges are often flavored with terpenes derived from other plants, he said, but there’s no comparison to the flavor of marijuana itself.
“The terpenes don’t make you high,” Mata said. “You isolate it with lab procedures. I personally don’t want the THC, but I want the flavor of cannabis.”
Cannabis connoisseurs believe that terpenes are vitally important to the product. Terpenes can make a person feel uplifted or relaxed, said Brad Wehde, manager of The Herb Center in Bend. Terpenes have a different effect on the body, he said.
But when oils, extracts and concentrates are made, the terpenes dissipate. Flavor has to be reintroduced.
Opening new markets would indeed help the industry grow, Wehde said. “It’s unfortunate that we cannot sell out of state,” he said. “There’s a market for distillates, the pure version of a cannabinoid.”
Lawmakers this year approved two measures targeting the oversupply. One measure empowered the OLCC to not process applications for new growing facilities while there is an oversupply. The second empowered the governor to enter into agreements for interstate sales to other legal recreational marijuana states.
“We’re dealing with a new industry here,” Palcic said. “We’re going to feel our way through it.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2117, firstname.lastname@example.org