Senate Bill Changes Authority Over Medicinal Marijuana

A bill designating the Oregon Liquor Control Commission new authority over the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law last week. Senate Bill 1057, which passed the Oregon Senate on May 22 and was sent to the governor’s desk on the 23rd, allows the OLCC to regulate both recreational and medical marijuana and lends incentives to medical marijuana growers to encourage them to expand their businesses into the recreational market.

SB 1057, which comes with a set of amendments contained in sister bill HB 2198, which should pass soon, creates many changes in the way Oregon’s cannabis industry will be controlled by the state’s government. The whopping 43-page-long bill includes numerous provisions surrounding the way that medical pot will be cultivated, handled, and sold in Oregon.

According to the rules listed in SB 1057’s fine print, medical weed will no longer be regarded strictly as “medicine” by state law and instead will be quickly phased into Oregon’s business sector of cannabis-for-profit. The bill creates a special medical marijuana license, issued by the OLCC, that allows medical marijuana growers and processors access to recreational vendors. The labeling authority of pot and pot-derived products, which is currently presided over by the Oregon Health Authority, will be transferred from the OHA to the OLCC.

Once cannabis growers receive the special license, they will be permitted to grow an additional 10% of canopy square footage to their crops, providing they donate at no cost 75% of the additional crops produced to “registry identification cardholders and designated primary caregivers” and sell the other 25% to OLCC-licensed dispensaries.

The new bill also gives the OLCC additional control to enforce state marijuana laws, and provides growers who comply with the new licensing regime more protection and freedom to grow and sell their products. OLCC “regulatory specialists” (a title given to those who investigate the background and financial qualifications of applicants for liquor and cannabis licenses) are now prohibited from carrying firearms while conducting any investigations that require said specialists to enter a place where buds are grown or cultivated.

In addition, personal medical marijuana patients will now be allowed to grow six more plants at home, in addition to the four already allowed by recreational marijuana laws. OLCC pot license carriers will also be allowed to carry and sell weed and weed products at Oregon trade shows, the first of which will be the 2017 Oregon State Fair, held in Salem from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4.

The amendment bill, HB 2198, which has not yet been passed, supplements the main bill’s transfer of authority over medical marijuana from the OMMP to the OLCC. Its most significant provision will be to change the name of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Control Commission.

By Kiki Genoa