Well, the 2017 Legislative session ended early last month and the legislature passed several cannabis related bills. In 2018 the Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation will not be reconvened, but state agencies will be continuing with the rule making a process for the new statutes.
Among these new statutes is Senate Bill 1057, which regulates medical cannabis, and requires growers to use Metrc seed to sale tracking by July 2018. It also changed the immature plant limits for OMMP growers, limiting them to twice the allowable number of plants grown. In addition, it requires disclosure of financial interests for licensees, increases the number of OLCC commissioners from 5 to 7, allows for a 10% increase in existing grow canopies for medical use, and transfers labeling oversight from the Oregon Health Authority to the OLCC. It further protects OLCC licensees from potential federal Adult Use obstacles, by creating a fallback position to exclusively serve medical patients.
Another new statute, SB 863, disallows cannabis retailers from retaining any information that could be used to identify customers. This was passed as a precautionary action to protect the privacy of Oregon consumers.
SB 1015 now allows industrial hemp growers licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture to transfer hemp to OLCC processors, creating an avenue for hemp growers to market products within the state. It provides that industrial hemp, industrial hemp concentrates, and industrial hemp extracts may be processed and sold to OLCC licensees.
Probably the most controversial bill was HB 2198. It is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature and is expected to be signed into law. This bill will establish an Oregon Cannabis Commission, that will be charged with reporting to the Legislature on the Medical Marijuana Program. This bill will help promote medical cannabis and to help Oregon marijuana patients retain access to their medicine. The controversy came with the amendment that allows Medical Marijuana growers to sell up to 20 pounds of excess medical cannabis into the OLCC retail outlets. Overall the industry was split on this one, but the belief is that it will help with the diversion of product into the black market by creating a legal sales avenue for medical growers.It also changes the name of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. Lastly, it makes minor adjustments to the school buffer rules under certain circumstances and allows a city or county to opt into legal cannabis without referring an amendment to the voters.
Overall it was a busy year in cannabis legislation, but notably a proposed 5% cannabis tax increase did not pass and SB 307 regarding social consumption ran into opposition from public health officials regarding compliance with the Clean Air Act, with proponents vowing to return to the issue in future sessions. Now that the Measure 91 joint committee has disbanded industry advocates will have to organize their efforts to advance future legislation and engage with rules committees to advance our agendas. Industry members wish to thank all the Measure 91 legislative committee members for their support and guidance through the last three years of cannabis legislation.
Margo Lucas is the owner of West Salem Cannabis and Cowgirl Cannabis. A believer in good communication and education, Lucas has advocated for the industry at city, county and state levels.