Oregon Proposes Increased Fees, More Harmful Medical Marijuana Changes

   

When 56% of Oregonians voted to legalize and regulate marijuana by passing Measure 91 in 2014, they voted for a law that included a provision that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program would not be impacted. While the legalization law couldn’t guarantee that no changes would occur forever, many voters across the state cannot be happy about proposed policies that will hurt Oregon’s cannabis patients.

Due to legislation passed by the Oregon Legislature, medical marijuana growers will be prohibited from growing more than 12 plants in urban residential areas and 48 in other areas on March 1st, with some grow sites being grandfathered in for 24 or 96 plants respectively. Legislators also called for some tracking and inspection of commercial gardens and established a rulemaking process by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Unfortunately, many of the proposed rules coming out of the rulemaking process are not looking good for medical patients, including an increase in fees.

The Oregonian’s Noelle Crombie reports on the fact that Oregon is proposing a $200 per patient fee on licensed medical cannabis growers even though the state program has been generating millions of dollars for the state:

Oregon’s proposed fee increase was discussed at a meeting Monday of the health authority’s rules advisory committee, which is in the process of drafting regulations for the medical marijuana industry as well as parts of the recreational marijuana industry, such as serving sizes. The fees, if finalized, would go into effect March 1.

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Oregon’s medical marijuana patients have long complained about cost of obtaining a card, revenue that is used to fund the state’s medical marijuana program, including dispensary regulation, as well as a wide range of public health efforts.

In the 2013-15 budget cycle, medical marijuana fees generated about $22.1 million. It costs $8.1 million to administer the medical marijuana program, which employs 38 people. The state spends another $8.8 million in revenue generated by medical marijuana fees on other public health programs, including emergency medical services, clean drinking water programs, contraceptive care, school-based health centers and other public health efforts.

Crombie’s entire piece is certainly worth a read.

As Crombie reports, OHA is also considering a $4,000 fee for medical marijuana processors, a fee that is too high for a business seeking to serve only the patient system. Additionally, the OHA is going above and beyond the intent of the legislature in a few respects, including the requirement that all medical marijuana growers, including those who are themselves patients only growing for themselves, will have to report to the state how much they cultivate and be subject to inspection by government employees.

Unfortunately, the increase in fees; plant limitations; and the reporting and inspection requirements will harm the poorest and sickest patients in Oregon. The state is still working on implementing the recreational system and licensed retail stores won’t be open until the end of 2016. New medical regulations are not needed on March 1, 2016 as they will only hurt Oregon’s most vulnerable patients, clearly not the intention of Oregon legislators and voters.

If you care about the plight of sick and disabled patients, especially those battling poverty, please contact the Oregon Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Committee and urge them to delay new medical marijuana regulations scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2016:

sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us, Sen.LeeBeyer@state.or.us, Sen.JeffKruse@state.or.us, Sen.FloydProzanski@state.or.us,Rep.PeterBuckley@state.or.us, rep.kenhelm@state.or.us, Rep.AndyOlson@state.or.us, sen.tedferrioli@state.or.usrep.annlininger@state.or.us, rep.carlwilson@state.or.us

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.