Another Important Step in Recognizing Cannabis as Medicine in Oregon
Since fully legalizing recreational marijuana, Oregon’s medical marijuana industry has been faltering. The number of medical marijuana dispensaries is plummeting. In order to save the industry, several new bills have been introduced and have made their way through the House. Some have made it into law.
First, there is House Bill 2198, which establishes an Oregon Cannabis Commission. The bill went through the legislature and now sits on Governor Kate Brown’s desk, awaiting her signature. Establishing the commission is only part of what the bill will allow, but it is by far the most important aspect.
According to Representative Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass), “Since the passage of Measure 91, there has been a mass migration to the highly regulated OLCC system, and that leaves a much smaller OMMP which is badly in need of modernization and that is what this bill does.”
One of the major changes in the law is to allow two OMMP patients living at a single address to grow up to 12 plants. Formerly, they could only grow six, according to SB1057, which had passed earlier in June. Another of the changes related to OMMP growers is that the passage of the bill allows for them to sell up to 20 pounds of their excess marijuana to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s recreational marijuana program. This part of the measure was not well received by recreational growers, who did not want perceived competition from medical growers. However, the bill is intended to prevent the excess product from medical growers ending up on the black market and being sold, possibly, in other states.
When it comes to immature plants, that number has been increased to be an unlimited number provided that they are under 24-inches tall. 2 immature plants that are over 24-inches tall are allowed for each mature plant at the grow site.
The new Oregon Cannabis Commission as stated in the bill will be comprised of eight members who will serve 4-year terms, but they serve at the pleasure of and are appointed by the governor. The makeup of the commission will be as follows: A registry identification cardholder, an attending physician, a representative of the Oregon Health Authority, an OLCC representative, a local health officer, a law enforcement officer, and a person knowledgeable about research proposal grant protocols.
Another part of the bill is that it will allow a designated primary caregiver to assist patients with matters relating to the use of medical cannabis, including the production and processing of the plant.
The bill also reduces the distance from a school to 500 feet for a dispensary, and that distance can be even lower provided that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission determines that there is a physical or geographic barrier that will prevent access to the dispensary by children.
Another bill of interest that passed is SB 863, which prevents cannabis businesses from retaining personal consumer data. This came in response to concerns of federal intervention into the state market.
With the appointment of anti-pot Jeff Sessions to Attorney General, there have been concerns of a federal crackdown on states that have legalized recreational and medical cannabis. The measure was not popular among those who were in favor of dispensaries that offered loyalty programs, as keeping customer information on purchases would now be disallowed.
Another tactic that the state government is taking to help prevent a federal crackdown is SB 1057, which requires those growing and processing cannabis to track the product from seed to sale. This is another measure to prevent cannabis from making its way to the black market. The bill’s aim is to keep the growth, processing, and sale of cannabis in the state’s legal channels to prevent giving a reason for a federal crackdown.
These three bills are all part of Oregon’s plan to keep a languishing medical marijuana program going as well as to try and limit federal overreach amid growing concerns of federal intervention into state matters. Hopefully, these measures will bring medical marijuana to the fore as more and more states look to legalize. Like the vaporizer industry, which has its own rules and regulations, the medical and recreational cannabis industry must have its own regulations to prevent misuse.
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