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Oregon: Early Recreational Marijuana Sales Bill Signed By Governor

OregonDispensary[AP]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday signed legislation allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state to start selling recreational cannabis to adult consumers on October 1.

Consumers 21 and older will be able to buy up to a quarter-ounce of pot per day at dispensaries, as well as seeds and up to four immature plants, under Senate Bill 460, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.

This will be the first time medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to sell to people who don't have a medical card. Supporters of the measure said Oregon should go ahead with sales to divert traffic from the black market. Dispensary owners were also anxious to move into recreational marijuana sales, because the market is oversaturated on the medical side.

There will be no tax on products in the dispensaries until January 4, under the temporary sales program. After that, a 25 percent sales tax will kick in.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission plans to license a network of recreational cannabis retailers and plans to allow them to open sometime in the second half of 2016. Many medical dispensaries are expected to switch to the recreational market.

Recreational marijuana retailers are expected to offer a wider range of products, and will be allowed to sell up to an ounce at the time to adults.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Ask For Lifeline To Recreational Market

MeghanAndMattWallstatterOregonLegislatureTestimony2015[TheOregonian]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana dispensary owners on Thursday begged Oregon lawmakers to let them sell to recreational cannabis users, once legalization is implemented on July 1.

"We don't know a single dispensary doing well in this over-saturated market," said Meghan Wallstatter, who along with her husband Matt owns the Pure Green dispensary in Portland, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. She called recreational marijuana sales a "much-needed lifeline" for medical dispensaries.

The Oregon Health Authority has approved 310 dispensary licenses; another 93 are pending, according to a June 12 tally.

More than 130 dispensaries have been approved in Portland, and only a few of them are making money, according to consultant Sam Chapman, who said it could lead to a a big shakeout with only a few shops left open.

"If we truly want to keep this a craft industry and we want to empower the mom and pop businesses to be able to survive in this industry, we need to have early recreational sales," Chapman said. "A lot of these businesses are starting to drown."

The Oregon House-Senate marijuana committee is looking at language that would allow dispensaries to sell some cannabis products to recreational users while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission sets up its own retail network.

Oregon: Harmful Bill To Limit Medical Marijuana Growers Passes Senate 29-1

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Senate on Wednesday voted 29-1 for a harmful bill tightening regulations on medical marijuana cultivation, with the claimed intent of reining in diversions to the black market.

The measure, Senate Bill 964, has encountered spirited opposition among many medical marijuana patients and growers, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. But lawmakers -- echoing their northern neighbors in the Washington Legislature -- claimed the success of Oregon's new recreational cannabis market depends on clamping down on marijuana grown for patients.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), chair of a House-Senate joint committee on implementing the legalization initiative approved by voters last November, claimed the "large amount" of marijuana diverted to the black market makes it harder for licensed sellers to compete, and could result in federal action against the state.

Oregon now produces an estimated $1 billion a year of "largely black market medical marijuana that ends up all over the country, a problem which is far worse than I ever dreamed," Sen. Burdick dramatically claimed.

Oregon: Lawmakers 'Move To Curb Black Market,' Blame Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what's starting to look uncomfortably like a replay of how legalization played out in next door neighbor Washington state, Oregon lawmakers are moving to put new strict limits on medical marijuana growers after voters approved recreational legalization last November.

Legislators want to shift large medical growers to the strictly regulated recreational cannabis market Oregon plans to develop, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.

"We have to show we're doing everything we can to close off the black market," claimed Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland). "It's no secret that medical marijuana [from Oregon] is appearing all over the U.S. in the illegal market."

It's amazing how quickly both the Washington and Oregon medical marijuana communities -- both of which have existed with no major problems for almost 17 years now, since voters in both states approved medical marijuana in 1998 -- became a "problem" due to their "unregulated" nature after recreational legalization was approved.

Rob Patridge, chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, actually claimed that as much as 75 percent of the medical marijuana in the state winds up going to the black market. Patridge offered no evidence for his wild claims.

He said he hoped the "growing legislative consensus" on how to regulate medical growers will produce "a model system for the U.S." showing how to curtail illegal sales.

Oregon: Gov. Kitzhaber Claims Home Marijuana Possession Limits Are Too High

OregonGovernorJohnKitzhaber(closeup)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon voters -- a whopping 56 percent of them -- approved Measure 91, which legalized marijuana, up to half a pound of it at home. But now Gov. John Kitzhaber has apparently decided he knows better than voters, and on Tuesday he indicated me might ask the Legislature to set lower limits.

Kitzhaber claimed he had "many concerns" about the voter-approved initiative, questioning the logic of allowing adults to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis at home yet just one ounce in public, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.

"The amount you can actually grow in a home-grow operation seems to me to exceed the amount that you're supposed to have legally," Kitzhaber said. "I don't know how you enforce that."

Kitzhaber did not say what kinds of possession limits he'd like to see.

Possession limits were deliberately set higher at home to allow adults to grow their own marijuana and make concentrates and edibles, according to backers of Measure 91.

"Just like home brewing of beer and the home making of wine, you need to have reasonable rules for personal cultivators and hobbyists who want to produce their own marijuana," said Anthony Johnson, chairman of New Approach Oregon, which sponsored the 2014 initiative.

Oregon: Jeff Merkley Becomes First U.S. Senator To Support Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) has said he plans to vote for Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon, which would make him the first sitting U.S. Senator to support legalization.

"I lean in support of it," Sen. Merkley told Talking Points Memo's Sahil Kapur last week. Reporter Jeff Mapes reported on Sen. Merkley's stance earlier this month, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.)

"I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case," Merkley said. "And there is concern about a series of new products -- and we don't have a real track record from Colorado and Washington.

"But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure," Merkley said.

A Merkley staffer said her boss had stopped short of officially endorsing the ballot initiative, reports Courtney Sherwood at Reuters. "The senator has not endorsed the ballot measure, but he has said he will vote for it," said Courtney Warner Crowell, Merkley's deputy communications director.

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization Opponent Admits He Was Wrong About Child Deaths

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Oregon physician who outraged the crowd at a Tuesday night debate on marijuana legalization when he claimed five Colorado children had died from cannabis retracted on his statement on Wednesday and acknowledged he was wrong.

"I really need to retract that statement because I can't back it up," said Dr. Ron Schwerzler, medical director at an addictions treatment center in Eugene. Schwerzler claimed he "might have been misunderstanding" stories of children who have been hospitalized in Colorado after accidentally ingesting marijuana-infused edibles. "Telling a whopper" seems a much more likely explanation, Dr. Schwerzler.

When Tuesday's discussion turned to the issue of how legalization is being implemented in Colorado, Schwerzler said: "Let's concentrate on those edibles. There have been at least five infant children deaths in Colorado that have picked up these drugs."

Several audience members began yelling, "Not true!" and "What source?" The ill-informed physician was apparently unaware that there has never been one single documented case of a fatal marijuana overdose in history.

Schwerzler on Wednesday emailed a statement to leaders of the No On 91 campaign admitting his mistake. "After our conversation today I realized that my statement about children's deaths in Colorado is in error," he wrote. "There have been admits to ICUs for children who have eaten edibles and were hospitalized.

Oregon: Group Cancels Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Marijuana Summit After Complaints

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A taxpayer-funded anti-drug group has canceled an October summit in Madras, Oregon, after complaints were raised by sponsors of Measure 91, a ballot measure which would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. The event, like 12 other local appearances, was scheduled just before the November vote.

The summit was to feature Kevin Sabet, a prominent opponent of cannabis legalization, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. Sponsors of Measure 91 this week charged that it was wrong for organizers to use federal funds to help pay for an appearance by Sabet, a former White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) adviser who has formed Smarter Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an anti-pot organization.

The taxpayer-funded "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour" was billed as a supposedly non-political event, since it would likely violate campaign rules for funds to be used for political purposes -- and this was flagrantly scheduled for just before the marijuana vote. Sabet had claimed that he wouldn't talk about the ballot measure on the tour.

The summit was canceled because he "could see from an outside perspective that it could look like a conflict," admitted Rick Treleaven, executive director of BestCare Treatment Practices and organizer of the event.

Oregon: Activists Look To End Marijuana Prohibition In 2014

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A bill that would ask Oregon voters if they want to legalize marijuana while leaving the regulations up to the Legislature passed its first committee last Thursday.

Senate Bill 1556 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 vote, with all Democrats supporting it and all Republicans opposing, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.

The measure was amended before passing to lower the amount of cannabis that adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess in private. The amount was lowered from eight ounces and four plants in the original bill to six ounces and three plants in the amended version.

Cannabis activists are already gathering signatures for two legalization initiatives.

Initiative 21 would amend the Oregon Constitution, ending criminal penalties for cannabis and permitting adult recreational marijuana use, possession and cultivation.

Initiative 22, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2014, creates a commission to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Oregon General Fund, helping to pay for schools, roads, and social services.

The groups HEMP in Oregon (Help End Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon) and CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp) have kicked off a vigorous volunteer and paid petition drive to get both initiatives on the ballot for November 2014, according to director Paul Stanford.

Oregon: Bill To Refer Marijuana Legalization To Voters Stays Alive In Legislature

OregonMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that would ask Oregon voters if they want to legalize marijuana while leaving the regulations up to the Legislature passed its first committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 1556 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 vote, with all Democrats supporting it and all Republicans opposing, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.

While Thursday was the legislative deadline for moving bills out of committee, that deadline doesn't apply to the Rules Committee.

It makes more sense for lawmakers to work out the details of regulating marijuana production and sales instead of leaving it up to activists who are working on their own legalization initiatives for the November general election ballot, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene).

The measure was amended before passing to lower the amount of cannabis that adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess in private. The amount was lowered from eight ounces and four plants in the original bill to six ounces and three plants in the amended version.

The bill has a 50-50 chance of passing the Oregon Legislature, according to Rep. Peter Buckley, who cosponsors it with Prozanski. Several legislators "don't want to become attached to anything having to do with marijuana," Rep. Buckley said.

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