For more information for grow site administrators, email ommmp.info@dsoha.state.or.us, or call 971-673-1234.

Starting next month, medical marijuana growers will have to report plant and harvest information to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and not the Oregon Health Authority.

It’s part of a package of changes adopted by the Legislature earlier this year that are designed to tighten oversight. The new rule calls for anyone tending plants for three or more patients to use the OLCC cannabis tracking system.

The rule change doesn’t apply to anyone who grows for less than three patients or just for themselves. Those growers remain with the Oregon Health Authority tracking system. Oregon law allows anyone to have four marijuana plants on their property for personal use, said Carole Yann, Oregon Health Authority section manager, Public Health Division.

“We have a tracking system, but the Legislature wanted to have more tracking of the production of medical and recreational,” Yann said.

The OLCC and the health authority were in Sunriver on Tuesday to talk to growers and others in the industry to ensure compliance with the new rules and regulations, said Mark Pettinger, OLCC spokesman. About 100 people showed up for the half-day discussion.

Many of Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries have already moved to the recreational side. Legal, recreational cannabis is available to anyone over 21 and has made it unnecessary for many to obtain a medical marijuana card that can cost as much as $200.

Jeremy Kwit, owner of three cannabis retail stores in Bend called Substance, has been in business for five years and said it’s natural for the health authority to pass oversight of medical marijuana to the OLCC. The tracking system is more sophisticated and will provide production and use data for both the recreational and medical markets, he said.

“I think the state wants to demonstrate to the federal government that it’s involved and has the appropriate resources to track cannabis,” Kwit said.

“There will be operators who are up in arms because they don’t want to be told what to do. It’s part and parcel to the idea of minimizing the risk of diversion by having a stronger regulatory and tracking system.”

Lesley Jones, executive director of Tumalo Living Organic Farms, which had operated as a medical growing site but switched to all recreational, said that there’s good and bad with requiring OLCC tracking.

“It’s a big step,” Jones said. “It will bring better transparency and that will bring more accountability, but it puts more work on the medical growers.” In Deschutes County, as of April there were 2,379 registered medical patients, more than 1,100 growers and 863 grow sites that cared for marijuana plants for three or more patients.

By comparison in Jackson County in Southern Oregon, there were 6,741 patients, more than 3,650 growers and 2,530 grow sites, according to data provided by the Oregon Health Authority.

Statewide there are about 18,000 grow sites where people grow medical marijuana for themselves or others, Yann said. As of May 31, the date medical marijuana grow sites were supposed to designate a tracking system administrator, about 1,100 people had yet to comply and received letters last week, she said. The growers have 15 days to comply before the July 1 deadline, Yann said.

Failure to establish a grow site administrator could result in revocation of the license or the health authority’s refusal to renew the registration.

The administrator’s job is to ensure that the data is submitted to the cannabis tracking system, which is administered by Metrc under contract with the OLCC, she said.

The tracking system is the state’s way to prevent diversion to the black market.

“We’re here to support the Oregon Health Authority,” Pettinger said.

“And it gives us a chance to talk to our licensees, for them to ask us questions.”

Medical marijuana users need a card to buy medical grade cannabis in Oregon. Medical users also do not pay tax on their purchases.

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

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