Marijuana is sold at Main Street Marijuana on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Vancouver, Wash., the first day of sales at the site. (Beth Nakmura, The Oregonian)

Oregon news: Washington pot not priority for Portland police

There is one issue: The federal "Cole Memo" enforcement priority regarding marijuana crossing state lines, but Portland police say they're focused on "large scale operations"

Police in Oregon’s biggest city are saying they’re OK with Oregonians buying weed in neighboring Washington state and bringing it across the state line and back into Oregon — but the government organization that is implementing the state’s legal marijuana program isn’t being so relaxed on the subject.

The states’ shared borders and geographic proximity makes for a logical weed region; the Pacific Northwest, once known for its pinot noirs, will soon become celebrated for its Blue Dream.

Only there’s a problem, and it was penned by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole in August of 2013. The document known in the cannabis industry as “The Cole Memo” outlined eight enforcement priorities as they relate to the federal government’s guidance of individual states’ legal marijuana programs. One of the eight enforcement priorities outlined in the memo: “Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states.”

As soon as Oregon legalized weed in November 2014, the questions became real: What if two legal states share a border? Would it matter? Would the feds care?

With Oregon’s legalization going into effect in less than two weeks on July 1, Portland police are making it clear they don’t care.

“We are not doing interdiction on people who are going there to buy their weed and bringing it back,” Sgt. Pete Simpson told The Oregonian’s excellent pot writer Noelle Crombie. “Our drugs and vice division has not and does not focus on low level drug transfers of any kind. They are working large scale operations, which is not what we are talking about.”

More from The Oregonian’s report — including the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s take on the subject, which contradicts the Portland Police’s opinion:

While Portland police shrug at the prospect of Oregonians going on a shopping trip to Washington, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission strongly advises against it.

The agency is concerned about running afoul of a 2013 U.S. Department of Justice memo that spells out the federal government’s law enforcement priorities on marijuana. Those priorities include preventing black market diversion.

But practically speaking, Simpson said Portland police aren’t looking for motorists traveling with marijuana they bought in Vancouver. However, he did have a bit of advice for those thinking of making the trip.

“You don’t need to fly a flag that says, ‘This car is full of weed,'” he said. “That’s not something we would suggest.”

As the story points out, Oregonians in May helped propel a pot shop in Vancouver, Wash., to the top-selling store in the state. Vancouver’s Main Street Marijuana sold $1.8 million in May, besting the No. 2 shop, Seattle’s Uncle Ike’s, by around $300,000, according to the Washington Liquor Control Board.

“Probably half of our business is from Oregon,” Main Street owner Ramsey Hamide told The Oregonian earlier this month.