By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries in Oregon have a deadline in December.

They must notify the Oregon Health Authority by Dec. 1, with some exceptions, if they intend to remain with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and register with the Cannabis Tracking System, or opt to become licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which has oversight of the state’s legal recreational marijuana program. Only those in the medical marijuana program who grow for themselves and have no more than 12 mature and 24 immature plants on their grow sites are exempt from the deadline.

Many of Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries have already moved to the recreational side. The advent of legal, recreational cannabis, available to any adult older than 21, made it unnecessary for many to obtaining a medical marijuana card at a cost of several hundred dollars.

The number of medical cannabis dispensaries has fallen to 20 statewide, while the OLCC has licensed 22 recreational retailers in Bend alone.

“We’re going to have to track everything in our system,” said Mark Pettinger, spokesman for the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program.

Medical dispensaries that opt for an OLCC license may remain in the medical marijuana business while their license applications make their way through the approval process, he said.

The Oregon Legislature during this year’s session imposed the deadline and tracking requirement as part of Senate Bill 1057, which requires medical marijuana produced and transferred within the medical marijuana program to be tracked by the state Cannabis Tracking System.

The tracking system, administered by Metrc under contract with the OLCC and also known as seed-to-sale tracking, was implemented, in part, to prevent legally produced marijuana from leaking into the black market.

Medical marijuana growers, processors and retailers that choose to remain within the medical program must pay a fee of about $480, according to the OHA. Those that switch to the OLCC recreational program must submit a completed application by Jan. 1. Oregon Medical Marijuana Program registrations for those who do not indicate their preferences will not be renewed, according to OHA.

Only one dispensary in Central Oregon is registered with the OHA medical marijuana program, Plantae Health in Prineville. The Prineville City Council in June 2015 imposed a ban on businesses in recreational marijuana. City authorities at the time noted more local support for medical marijuana over recreational use, according to The Bulletin archives.

No processors in Central Oregon are registered with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, according to the program website. In Central Oregon, 1,692 growers are registered with the medical marijuana program. Most, 1,376, are in Deschutes County, with 173 in Crook County and 143 in Jefferson County, said Larry Bingham, OHA spokesman, on Monday. He did not have a count of the number of growers in Central Oregon exempt from the deadline.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,