Category: columnists

A busy year in Oregon cannabis legislation

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...

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Trump, GOP Throwing Monkey Wrench in Health Care Markets

You know there’s trouble when Republican Senators say they’ll only vote for repeal of Obamacare if they’re assured it won’t actually happen. Trump and Congressional Republican leaders are now left with only their rhetoric. Trump still clings to it. “Let it fail,” he says of Obamacare. “The best thing politically is to let it explode,” he says with detonator in hand. It may be called Obamacare, but Trump’s using his broad authority over implementation to turn it into Trumpcare, hoping nobody notices health care is in his hands now. It happens that the only way for Trump to fulfill his own prophecy is to gum up the works. He is monkeywrenching Obamacare. In an April column I pointed out ways Trump and the GOP could sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Chief among them was elimination of the cost-share subsidies to insurance companies for low-income subscribers, roughly 60 percent of ACA policies. House Republicans argued in court that while the ACA authorized such payments, the funds still required specific Congressional appropriation, something the GOP Congress has withheld.  A federal district judge sided with them but allowed the payments to continue while the issue was appealed. Consequently, insurance companies have had to approach the 2018 market with uncertainty over the payments, and if there’s one thing markets don’t like it is uncertainty. Of course Congress could have eliminated the uncertainty by...

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Do We Have a Fourth-Grader as President?

Kids might actually start believing their parents when they’re told you could grow up to be president. After all, it happens that they now have a president who actually acts and talks like a fourth-grader. As far as I know, the “fourth-grader” appellation first appeared in summer of 2015 in an analysis of the level of the vocabulary in Trump’s campaign speeches. Subsequent academic analysis of grammar and readability of political speeches varied the level between third and sixth-grade levels. Trump clearly doesn’t like detail. His speeches rarely go beyond generalities where whatever he’d do was going to be “great,” “tremendous,” “historic,” “best ever” or , like health care, “beautiful.” In politics, simplified speech is often necessary to get a point across in a short period of time. And it can be an advantage for those seeking to be seen as a plainspoken alternative to verbose elites. But Trump has taken it to a lower level. I don’t take characterizing a president as a fourth-grader lightly. This is a powerful person who is the face of the country. Nor should we view the ascribed level of speech as an indicator of his intelligence. It is the simplistic, childish mentality that comes with it that’s so troubling. It isn’t the grammar or limited vocabulary we need worry about. It’s not that he talks like a fourth-grader. It’s that he acts...

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By letting them speak they expose themselves

It happens that the best way to combat those purveying ignorance and bigotry and trading in fear and alternative facts is to let them speak rather than trying to shut them up. It exposes them to the light of examination and ultimately holds them accountable for what they say and do. In troubled times we struggle with how much to tolerate from the other side, especially the extreme edges. We’ve seen recent attempts to force cancellation of speeches and rallies, or to not air programs like Megyn Kelly’s interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist and serial ranter Alex Jones. Protests, concerns over public safety, boycotts and withdrawal of financial support are legal and legitimate ways to counter speech and speakers with which one doesn’t agree.  But in the big picture, I say let them speak. They will become their own worst enemy. Their prejudice, lies and hypocrisies will be their own undoing if forced to face the vigilance of a more rational, reasoned world. When I started the University of Oregon in 1965 as a small-towner from Molalla, one of the first things I noticed was the Free Speech Platform on the student union terrace, there for anyone to use, at any time, to say what they wished to anyone, or no one. It had been gifted by the Class of ’62, after student government experienced first hand effects of...

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Trump’s Paris Withdrawal Leaves U.S. Alone and Behind

It happens that by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, instead of putting “America First” President Trump left American alone and behind. The U.S., as represented by Trump, is now an international pariah bent on denying science and going full throttle back to the glory days of the coal industry. The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, was a voluntary non-binding agreement in which each country set its own CO2 emissions targets to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above what it was before the age of industrial production. The U.S. pledged to reduce emission between 26 to28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In withdrawing, Trump misrepresented the agreement to tailor it to his nationalism and job promises to the coal states. The fact checkers had a field day. Allegedly our sovereignty was at stake and it could expose the U.S. to “massive legal liability.” But it’s voluntary and non-binding. No foreign country has a say about what we do. We set our own targets. Accompanying text states clearly it doesn’t provide any basis for liability or compensation claims. The cited 6.5 million jobs lost by 2040 was based on a questionable study designed to produce extreme results by using hypothetical regulation models without considering lower cost options, increased jobs from clean energy sources, or benefits of reduced CO2 emissions. Trump said...

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