Micro-Canopy and Medical Expansion Will Help Small Oregon Farmers


Over-regulation and the influx of big money are two of the major issues facing Oregon and every state that legalizes cannabis commerce. While regulation is  a much preferred policy than prohibition, that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems to address. The costs of doing licences and local land use regulations are two major hurdles facing small Oregon cannabis farmers. The establishment of a micro-canopy license and the future canopy expansion for medical growers should help smaller Oregon cannabis farmers survive, and hopefully thrive, in a very competitive system. I’ll be helping cover these important aspects of Oregon’s marijuana licensing system at the upcoming Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC).

A tier one micro license costs $1,000 and allows for cultivation up to 625 square feet indoor of canopy or 2,500 sq. ft. for outdoor. The tier two micro license allows double the amount of canopy as the tier one and the license costs twice as much. The micro licenses are a bit more affordable than the regular producer licenses that cost $3,750 and $5750, comparatively. In addition to the cheaper licenses, the micro licenses don’t require a land use compatibility statement from the local government. While outright local bans prevent state licensure, other local regulations that could prevent larger marijuana farms won’t stop small farmers from getting their micro license.

The state is currently working on rules that will allow for an expansion of canopy size for recreational-market growers that continue to cultivate for medical patients. The details are still being ironed out, but it is possible that a tier one micro grower could get up to a 100% increase in cannabis canopy that will be allocated for medical patients, processors and dispensaries. Tier two micro growers will also get a boost on their canopy size, but it is likely to be less percentage-wise than the smaller, tier one growers. While the medical canopy must stay in the medical system, growers will be able to be reimbursed for costs from patients and may profit from sales at medical dispensaries.

While many great things have occurred due to legalization, there have been too many changes to the law that unfairly hurt small farmers and the medical system at large. Fortunately, there are some provisions in the law designed to help mom-and-pops and those that are compassionate enough to care for patients. More needs to be done, but the micro-canopy licenses and medical canopy expansions are great first steps. I look forward to discussing these first few steps, and our next steps to improve Oregon’s marijuana laws, at the OMBC in Ashland on November 19th.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.