The Oregon Legislature on Monday sent to the governor’s office a bill that expands the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s authority to regulate medical marijuana and gives incentives to medical marijuana growers to enter the recreational market.
Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign Senate Bill 1057, which passed the House, 51-7. The Senate passed the bill May 10.
Among its provisions, SB 1057, amended, would create a medical marijuana license issued by the OLCC that allows medical marijuana growers and processors access to recreational retailers.
The number of medical marijuana dispensaries dropped dramatically when recreational marijuana dispensaries started to open. Without a legal market available to unlicensed medical cannabis growers, some growers turn instead to the black market.
And without an OLCC license, medical marijuana growers have no access to recreational marijuana businesses. Under state law, only OLCC license holders — growers, processors, wholesalers, retailer and labs — may transfer cannabis products to other license holders.
SB 1057 is a reaction to the softening of the medical marijuana market, said Donald Morse, director of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council. The Oregon Health Authority lists 46 marijuana dispensaries in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, with two in Deschutes County and one each in Jefferson and Crook counties.
By contrast, the OLCC lists 20 recreational retailers in Bend.
“At the end of the day, we’ve reacted to there being no medical dispensaries any more and making it so recreational dispensaries can meet not only the needs of recreational customers but the needs of medical patients, as well,” Morse said Monday.
Another provision of SB 1057 allows city and county governments where voters have opted out of legal recreational marijuana to amend those bans to permit licensed medical marijuana facilities, without putting the question to voters.
The bill requires cannabis produced within the state medical marijuana program to be tracked by the OLCC Cannabis Tracking System, the seed-to-sale system operated under contract by Metrc.
And licensed marijuana producers could expand the number of their plants, or canopies, by 10 percent in order to grow marijuana for medical patients. The producer must donate 75 percent of the additional cannabis but may sell the remaining 25 percent.
Medical marijuana growers and processors usually may only recoup their expenses for providing cannabis for medical marijuana cardholders, a program overseen by the Oregon Health Authority.
Another provision of SB 1057 adds two members to the five-member OLCC, one each from Western and Eastern Oregon. It permits the OLCC to delve deeper into the backgrounds of financial stakeholders in a licensed marijuana business.
It also allows OLCC license holders to carry cannabis products to trade shows and the 2017 Oregon State Fair, under certain conditions. It would prohibit OLCC regulatory specialists from carrying a firearm or inspecting a residence not licensed by the commission or ensuring compliance by medical marijuana registrants.
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