oregon health authority

Oregon: Recreational Marijuana Shoppers Can Buy Edibles And Extracts Starting June 2

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana users in Oregon will be able to purchase pot-infused edibles and extracts starting next month.

Anyone 21 and older has been able to purchase a small amount of marijuana since October.

The sale of marijuana-infused edibles will start on June 2.

The Oregon Health Authority issued a bulletin this week detailing what is allowed:

Retail customers can buy one low-dose marijuana infused edible per day at medical marijuana dispensaries that sell to recreational customers. "Low dose" means an edible with no more than 15 milligrams of THC.

They also can buy:

-- Non-psychoactive marijuana-based topical products, like lotions and balms, that contain no more than 6 percent of THC.

-- One pre-filled catridge or container of marijuana extract per day. This type of product is typically consumed using a portable vaporizer device. The container may not contain more than 1,000 milligrams of THC.

Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1511, the law allowing the expanded recreational sales, on March 29.

Oregon: Health Authority Warns Dispensaries: No 4/20 Giveaways

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Oregon Health Authority on Monday cautioned marijuana dispensaries, saying they cannot sponsor contests or raffles that offer free weed as a prize.

The bulletin was issued for the week of 4/20, the unofficial holiday for marijuana advocates.

"Marijuana may not be given as a prize, premium or consideration for a lottery, contest, game of chance, game of skill or competition of any kind," according to the memo from André Ourso, manager of the state's medical marijuana program.

Ourso also said that dispensaries cannot allow on-site marijuana consumption except by an employee.

Oregon allows dispensary employees who are medical marijuana patients to consume pot at work if the person is alone and behind closed doors. Due to the Oregon Clean Air Act, consumption cannot include "smoking, combusting, inhaling, vaporizing, or aerosolizing."

Oregon: New Marijuana Extract Requirements Imposed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Tuesday the Oregon Health Authority warned Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries to not accept cannabis extracts from unlicensed processors.

The health authority has plans to start licensing for extract makers next month. Makers will most likely have to cease production until the required license can be obtained.

Butane hash oil, or BHO, can only be sold currently to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers in Oregon. It is up to the governor to sign an awaiting bill that would allow anyone 21 and older to buy extracts under Oregon's so-called early sales program.

The early sales program allows recreational consumers to purchase marijuana from dispensaries, which are regulated by the health authority. Starting later this year, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will oversee recreational sales.

Governor signed a bill earlier this month making unlicensed production of marijuana extracts a felony. The provision is intended to target homemade butane hash oil operations.

The health authority plans to roll out a licensing process for commercial extract companies, but André Ourso, manager of the state's medical marijuana program, said Tuesday that the application won't be online until April 1.

He said applying is just the beginning of a long process. "The application has to be reviewed," he said, adding that companies will need to ensure they meet local rules and fire safety requirements. "They still have to get their product tested for pesticides through an accredited laboratory."

Oregon: Task Force Says State Should Should Fund Marijuana Research Institute

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon should pay for an independent cannabis institute to study the herb's medicinal and public health benefits, according to a task force including state officials, scientists and leading doctors.

Tax dollars from recreational marijuana sales would supplement private funding to underwrite the semi-public Oregon Institute for Cannabis Research, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Research scientists and staff would be hired to navigate the complexities of getting marijuana studies federally approved, according to the report, prepared by the Oregon Health Authority.

The recommendation was included in a report submitted to the Oregon Legislature on Monday. Among the proposals is that the institute itself would grow and handle cannabis for research purposes.

"This institute will position Oregon as a leader in cannabis research and serve as an international hub for what will soon be a rapidly accelerating scientific field," according to the report. "No other single initiative could do as much to strengthen the Oregon cannabis industry and to support the needs of Oregon medical marijuana patients."

While the federal government allows research on marijuana, the approval process is tortuously complicated, and must use cannabis grow at a federal facility at The University of Mississippi.

Oregon: 142 Marijuana Applications Received On First Day

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Monday was the first day for license applications to enter Oregon's new recreational marijuana retail market, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission had received 142 applications by 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Seventy-five of the applications came from growers, most of them planning operations in Clackamas, Jackson, Lane and Multnomah counties, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Oregon doesn't plan to cap the number of marijuana licenses it will issue. According to a report from the liquor commission, the state will issue a total of 850 recreational marijuana licenses by the end of next year.

Applications are being accepted from marijuana processors, wholesalers, retailers, producers, laboratories and researchers, but as of Tuesday morning, no labs or researchers had applied, according to the OLCC.

The counties with the largest number among all applicants so far, according to the OLCC, are Multnomah County with 30; Clackamas County with 18; Jackson County with 17 and Lane County with 16 applications.

Oregon: Higher Medical Marijuana Grower Fees Proposed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana growers would be required to pay a $200 annual fee for every patient the grow for under a proposal being considered by the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon medical marijuana growers can grow cannabis for up to four patients; under current rules, the state charges $50 for each patient a grower takes on, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Recent expansion of the health authority's oversight of production and processing prompted officials to propose the steeper fees to help "cover expenses" for the bureaucracy.

Officials estimate the grower fee increase would boost revenue from $1.3 million to $5.2 million for the 2015-2017 budget cycle.

People who grow only for themselves won't have to pay any additional fees. The cost of getting an Oregon medical marijuana card also remains the same, at $200. Oregon, along with Minnesota and New Jersey, already has the highest medical marijuana patient fees in the nation, according to ProCon.org.

The proposed fee increase for Oregon growers was discussed at a Monday meeting of the health authority's rules advisory committee, which is drafting regulations for the medicinal cannabis industry as well as parts of the recreational marijuana industry, including serving sizes.

The increased fees, if finalized, would kick in on March 1.

Oregon: Draft Rules Issued For Recreational Marijuana Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon marijuana dispensaries that plan to make recreational sales to people 21 and older must first tell the state health authority and record the birthdates of shoppers, along with the quantities of cannabis they buy, under draft rules issued Wednesday.

Marijuana dispensaries are also required to prominently post a sign at the entrance letting consumers know they are either serving both the medical and the recreational market, or that they are a medical-only shop, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The guidelines for early recreational sales are the first of several sets of rules to be crafted by the Oregon Health Authority for the marijuana program, according to program administrator Steve Wagner. The agency will also issue rules for processors, growers, testing labs, serving sizes, and labeling, according to Wagner.

Recreational sales are set to begin on October 1 in medical marijuana dispensaries which choose to become a part of the program. Wagner said the public, including dispensary owners, will have about one week to comment on the rules.

Also in the draft rules:

• Dispensary staff members must distribute with every recreational marijuana purchase a state-issued information card about cannabis.

Oregon: House Approves Bill Setting Up Legal Marijuana Market

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill 52-4 setting up the state's legal marijuana market after voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November. The bill, HB 3400, now heads to the Oregon Senate.

The bill creates regulations for both medical and recreational cannabis, including a compromise allowing local jurisdictions to "opt out" of legalization, reports Sheila Kumar at the Associated Press. Members of a House joint committee charged with implementing Measure 91 had previously been unable to agree on the issue of local control, stalling the measure for weeks.

Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to ban cannabis sales if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last November's election. Other counties would have to put banning pot sales to a vote.

"I did not support Measure 91," said clueless Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). "I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug."

The bill also creates a marijuana tracking system, so bureaucrats can trace weed from seed to sale in order to keep it out of the black market. The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of creating and maintaining a database tracking the path of marijuana to market.

The bill requires grow sites to register and submit information on how much cannabis is processed and transferred every month.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Ask For Lifeline To Recreational Market

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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: Two Portland Dispensaries Face Off In Fight For Prime Location

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Portland medical marijuana dispensary filed a $400,000 lawsuit this month against the owners of another dispensary, claiming the second business lied on a state registration application to steal the first business's patients.

Two medical marijuana dispensaries cannot be within 1,000 feet of each other, under Oregon law, and that's why the Portland Medical Cannabis Club is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The Cannabis Club is just steps away from its soon-to-open competitor, 420 Dank. When 420 Dank opens, possibly as early as next month, the dispensaries will be in the 4600 and 4700 block of Southwest Beaver-Hillsdale Highway in Portland.

"They aren't trying to take anyone's business," claimed 420 Dank's lawyer, Brad Andersen. "It just happens to be in a prime location."

A little more than a year ago, the state began requiring all medical marijuana dispensaries to register, starting at 8:30 a.m. on March 3, 2014, via a state website. Dispensary owners flooded the site, and that's when this dispute began.

Oregon: Liquor Control Commission Names Marijuana Czar - It's A Former Pharma Lobbyist

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Tuesday announced that Tom Burns, a former pharmaceutical lobbyist who now works at the Oregon Health Authority as director of pharmacy programs and ran the state's medical cannabis dispensary program, will oversee the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Before working for the state of Oregon, Burns served as top administrator in the California Senate and was a lobbyist for GlaxoSmithKline, a Big Pharma giant, reports Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week.

The OLCC has been in charge of distributing and regulating liquor in Oregon since alcohol Prohibition ended, and now that the voters have approved Measure 91, it is now in the position of implementing marijuana legalization.

"Tom has navigated these waters before on the medical side," said OLCC Executive Director Steven Marks. "In line with Chairman Rob Patridge's direction, Tom will lead the implementation of Oregon's recreational marijuana law with a measured approach that protects children, promotes safety, and brings the marijuana industry into the regulated market."

Photo of Tom Burns: Willamette Week

Oregon: Marijuana Dispensary Pays Thousands As Health Authority Levies First Fines

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Health Authority has levied its first fines against medical marijuana dispensaries for violating the rules.

Portland Compassionate Caregivers this week paid $6,500 in fines for 13 "serious" violations, including poor record keeping and evidence of cannabis consumption on the premises, reports Anna Staver at the Statesman Journal. The state subsequently ordered the dispensary to close, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

"This penalty sends a message in no uncertain terms -- you must comply with Oregon law or you will pay the price," said Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority.

The shop was cited for violations during an unannounced, mandatory annual on-site inspection. OHA's regulations to enforce the state's 2013 medical marijuana dispensary law require an on-site inspection of each facility within six months of receiving a license, and annually thereafter.

William Lupton, the operator of Portland Compassionate Caregivers, paid the fines on August 26. According to the state's agreement with Lupton, the dispensary, at 4020 SE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, may reopen, but must first be inspected again.

Oregon: Officials Back Off Proposed Ban On Marijuana-Infused Treats

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana-infused edible treats just came within a gnat's whisker of getting banned by Oregon health officials, but seem to have dodged the bullet, at least for now. Officials at the Oregon Health Authority got hundreds of emails opposing the ban, and the new set of rules released on Monday seeks only to ban marijuana-laced products that are made in packaged in ways that might appeal to children.

The new rules ban cannabis-infused edibles that are brightly colored or formed in the shapes of animals, toys, or candies, reports Chad Garland of the Associated Press. They require cannabis products to be sold in child-proof containers, with no cartoons or "bright colors."

In a release announcing the new rules, Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority, said "Marijuana isn't candy, and it shouldn't look like candy."

SB 1531, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month, required the health authority to set the rules. The bill also allows cities and counties to ban dispensaries within their borders, until May 2015 anyway.

The new law calls for the Oregon Health Authority to implement rules designed to keep marijuana away from children.

An earlier draft of the proposed rules would have instituted a blanket ban on all cakes, cookies, candy and gum that contain cannabis, but Burns said the agency had gotten "a couple hundred" emails from patients upset about that.

Oregon: Health Authority Issues First 8 Licenses To Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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The Oregon Health Authority has issued licenses to the first eight medical marijuana dispensaries; the establishments were finally legalized by the Legislature last year after years of existing in a gray area of the law.

“For the first time, a legal and regulatory structure is in place to govern the operation of dispensaries,” said dispensary program supervisor Tom Burns, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.“The registration process is the first to ensuring safe access to medical marijuana for patients and protecting the safety of our communities.”

The names and locations of the eight licensed dispensaries are private under the law passed last year. However, the Oregon Health Authority gave applicants the option of allowing their shop names and locations to be released; seven of the eight licensed shops allowed that information to be released.

Getting a licensed were Pure Green in Northeast Portland, located on the site of one of the state's first post-Prohibition liquor stores; Oregon's Finest, 1327 NW Kearney St., Portland; NW Green Oasis, 1035 SE Tacoma St., Portland; Releaf Center, 2372 N. 1st St., Suite B, Hermiston; Cherry City Compassion, 202 5 25th St. SE, Salem; Dr. Jolly's, 415 SE 3rd St, Bend; and Emerald City Medical, 1474 W 6th Ave., Eugene.

Oregon: New Medical Marijuana Rules Require Child-Proof Packaging, Outlaw Most Infused Sweets

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday issued draft rules to keep marijuana-infused foods and candies away from children.

The rules result from the passage of Senate Bill 1531, a measure which allows municipalities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, which were finally legalized last year after years of existing in a gray area of the law. The rules are controversial and opposed by many medicinal cannabis patients and advocates, since they ban many sweet marijuana-infused medibles popular with patients, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Dispensaries may not sell marijuana-infused products "manufactured in a form that resembles cake-like products, cookies, candy, or gum, or that otherwise may be attractive to minors because of its shape, color, or taste," the oddly written draft rules state.

Oregon Health Authority Officials drafted the rules (gee, could they have indulged in the treats first?), which according to agency spokeswoman Karynn Fish, will take effect next week. Dispensaries will not be able to legally sell cookies and candies after that point.

Fish said the health authority is accepting public comment on the draft rules. You can email comments to medmj.dispensaries@state.or.us .

Oregon: 289 Apply To Operate Medical Marijuana Dispensaries On Opening Day

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon's medical marijuana dispensary registration program got off to a "robust" start on Mondasy, with 289 applications, according to state officials.

Program director Tom Burns said there was heavy traffic at the state's medical marijuana dispensary application website, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The state is issuing registrations on a first come, first served basis.

The rules require dispensaries to have at least 1,000 feet between them, leading to competition among already existing locations which are closer than 1,000 feet. That competition is likely what drove relatively high numbers of Multnomah County registrations on Monday, according to Burns.

Multnomah County saw the most applications, with 135 dispensaries starting the registration process. Lane County had 41, Jackson County had 18, Deschutes had 17, and Lincoln and Marion each had 11. A few counties, including Washington and Clackamas, had fewer than 10 each.

Oregon's existing medical marijuana dispensaries had until now operated in a legal gray area, relying on the tolerance of local police. Washington County and a few other localities had taken steps to shut down dispensaries, while Portland and Multnomah County generally let them operate.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Registry Starts On Monday

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Health Authority on Monday will begin registering dispensaries under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

By law, only patients or their caregivers registered with the OMMP are allowed to purchase marijuana from a dispensary, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Customers will be required to show a valid medical marijuana card and ID before they can enter.

Under Oregon law, only cardholders -- patients, caregivers and growers, are legally allowed to have marijuana. Patients can possess up to 24 ounces, caregivers can have up to 24 ounces for every patient under their care, and growers can produce cannabis for four patients, possessing up to 24 ounces for each patient.

Dispensary operators and employees don't have to have medical marijuana cards, but will still enjoy legal protections while they are in the facility.

Dispensaries are allowed to be reimbursed for the "normal and customary costs of doing business," and are required to document their expenses. That information must be given to state regulators upon request.

The shops will be allowed to sell growing marijuana plants, but plants taller than 12 inches or with flowers aren't allowed for sale.

If flowering plants are found at a location, the state will consider it a grow site, and the dispensary's registration could be revoked. Grow sites and dispensaries cannot share a location.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Required To Register With State, Maintain Security

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Operators of medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon will be required to register with the state, keep encrypted electronic records and maintain 24-hour security beginning in March 2014.

The committee tasked with creating the state's medical marijuana dispensary registry finished its work on Wednesday in Salem, but one member of the panel predicted the program would fail because of inadequate staffing, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The group has been meeting since September to craft rules around background checks, testing for potency and contaminants, and security requirements. A 30-page draft of the rules gives the specifics of how dispensaries will legally operate. Back in 1998, Oregon voters made the state one of the first to allow cannabis for medicinal use.

The Oregon Health Authority will be going over the proposed rules; there will also be public hearings around the state before they are finalized next year.

The rules came about as the result of the Oregon Legislature, earlier this year, passing a law which for the first time explicitly legalizes and regulates medical marijuana dispensaries. Retailers will face a maze of regulations starting next spring, but growers and the labs which test for potency and impurities won't be regulated by the dispensary law.

Oregon: Officials Move Forward With Marijuana Dispensary Security Rules

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Just how much security should Oregon's medical marijuana dispensaries be required to have in place? That was the question examined by state officials on Monday.

The rules, including input from police, policy makers and cannabis advocates, generated heated discussion among the 13-member panel, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Tom Burns, who supervises the state's pharmaceutical drug program, appointed and moderated the group.

All of this is happening because of the passage of House Bill 3460, passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The law formally legalized the dispensaries, which had been operating in a gray area of the law since Oregon voters approved medical marijuana in 1998.

Until HB 3460 came along, Oregon's medical marijuana dispensaries -- technically illegal but tolerated in a few areas, especially around Portland -- had operated mostly without official interference.

After passage of the bill into law, a committee started meeting in September to hammer out regulations that will govern the shops. The group's deadline for completing the rules is in December; they're expected to meet again before then.

Oregon plans to start accepting applications from prospective dispensary operators starting March 3, 2014.

Oregon: Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana dispensaries are being legalized in Oregon after Governor John Kitzhaber on Wednesday signed House Bill 3460, which will license and regulate the retail establishments.

The law moves Oregon's already booming medical marijuana industry solidly into the mainstream, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. It creates a registry of businesses that sell medicinal cannabis to authorized patients.

Oregon patients have been left without a legal way to access medical marijuana other than through growing it themselves or having a designated caregiver do it for them since the law was approved by voters in 1998. In the absence of retail storefronts, gray-market dispensaries sprung up in a few tolerant areas of the state, chiefly Portland.

Oregon joins a dozen other states that specifically allow medical marijuana dispensaries or retail outlets.

The Oregon Health Authority will be drafting rules for the new dispensary registry. The agency is still working out how that process will go forward, according to state officials.

The authority has until March 2014 to draft the rules on security, cannabis testing and other issues, reports The Oregonian. The bill had initially included a provision limiting criminal liability for existing dispensaries; Oregon prosecutors successfully got that part taken out.

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