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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: What Legalization? Police Want $5 Million For Marijuana Enforcement

OregonMarijuanaTrafficStop[NigelDuara-AP]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legalization? What legalization? Advocates may rightly be asking this question after the Oregon State Police requested a $3.9 million budget increase to go after marijuana.

The OSP wants the money for 2015-20176 to pay for 11 full-time troopers and detectives to go after pot, reports Aaron Mesh at Willamette Week.

Since that's in addition to the $1.3 million the state police already requested for a legal marijuana enforcement budget earlier this year, one can't help asking oneself, where are the savings in marijuana enforcement that supposedly come with "legalization"?

The state police have declined comment.

The OSP request comes after a proposal by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission -- put in charge of implementing cannabis legalization -- to create "peace officers" to patrol legal cannabis, investigate black market sales, enforce weed taxes, and stop sales to minors.

The OLCC is aware of the state police's request, and expects the two agencies to "work together" on enforcing the state's marijuana laws, claimed Liquor Control spokesman Tom Towslee.

"We can see the need to have somebody from the state police here in the OLCC to handle to the dispatch," Towslee said, referring to an officer who could field calls from state troopers checking the licenses of people found with large quantities of marijuana.

Oregon: Lawmakers Approve Money For Legal Marijuana Rules

OregonLiquorControlCommissionOLCC(logo)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission can now begin the implementation of recreational marijuana legalization under Measure 91 after the Legislature's Emergency Board, composed of state House and Senate members, approved funding for staff, legal help and rule-writing.

The board approved a $583,000 loan for the OLCC, reports Anna Staver at the Statesman Journal. The money is coming from the state's liquor taxes, with the promise that the Commission will pay it back by the end of the 2015-2017 budget cycle using revenue generated by marijuana sales.

The money will allow commissioners to hire four workers: a program manager, two policy analysts and a public affairs staffer, reports The Associated Press. Regulating recreational marijuana in Oregon might eventually require up to 30 employees, according to one state estimate.

Oregon voters approved Measure 91 with a lopsided 56 percent to 44 percent margin last month, but the ballot initiative left most regulation up to the Liquor Control Commission to work out by January 2016.

Homegrown marijuana and personal possession will become formally legal on July 1, 2015, with commercial sales expected to begin in 2016.

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: Marijuana Dispensary Bill Headed To Governor's Desk

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'These Oregon bills cumulatively amount to the the best legislative session for marijuana law reform in U.S. history' ~ Paul Stanford

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon House on Saturday gave final approval to a bill legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries, handing medicinal cannabis advocates a major victory. HB 3460 now heads to the desk of Governor John Kitzhaber.

The bill creates a registry of dispensaries that sell medical marijuana. Advoates argued that Oregon's rules, which require patients to grow their own cannabis or designate someone else to do it for them, are unrealistic, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News, said the bill represents major progress.

"On behalf of Oregon's medical marijuana patients, I thank the Oregon Legislature for passing HB 3460 to establish a legal, regulated, safe, reliable retail system for qualified patients to purchase medical marijuana," Stanford told Hemp News on Saturday. "I urge Governor John Kitzhaber to sign this bill, and thank the Governor for already signing several other good, progressive bills to reform marijuana laws over the last few weeks.

Oregon: House Passes Bill To License Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon House on Monday passed a bill to license and regulate the nearly 200 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the state.

House Bill 3460 requires the Oregon Health Authority to set up a licensing system under the state's Medical Marijuana Act.

"I urge the Oregon Senate to pass HB 3460 so patients can have safe, over-the-counter, regulated access to medical marijuana in a open, legal retail environment, said Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and director of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News.

"We shouldn't be pushing people with serious illnesses into the black market for relief," Stanford said. "HB 3460, when implemented, will protect patients, growers and retail establishments from wrongful arrest and potential incarceration."

“HB 3460 is a moderate bill that recognizes that some 200 dispensaries are operating all over Oregon today, patients are visiting them regularly and it is time to bring these facilities under the medical marijuana program,” said Geoff Sugerman, director of Oregonians for Medical Rights, the group sponsoring the legislation. "The regulations will provide a new level of safety and access to patients while giving dispensaries and local communities clear direction on how these should be operated."

Oregon: House Could Vote On Medical Marijuana Dispensary Registration Bill Monday

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon House could vote Monday on legislation authorizing the state to establish a registration system for medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations.

House Bill 3460 was approved by the Ways and Means Committee last week on a 13-2 vote among House members and a 6-5 vote among Senate members, reports Janie Har at The Oregonian.

Under HB 3460, dispensary owners would be required to pass criminal background checks, document the amount of marijuana coming into their establishments, and verify that it's from state-registered growers. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), would also require that marijuana sold by state-registered dispensaries be tested for impurities.

In addition to record-keeping requirements and background checks, Buckley's bill would prohibit dispensaries from operating with 1,000 feet of schools or other dispensaries.

Buckley, testifying for the bill before the House Health Care Committee, said that regulating the distribution of cannabis is essential to stopping its diversion to the black market. He said it will also give patients a legitimate source for their medicine.

"It's a little bit difficult when a constituent calls you up and says, 'Rep. Buckley, where can I get medical marijuana?' " he said.

Oregon: Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana For PTSD

(Illustration: Where's Weed?)House Passes SB 281 on 36-23 Vote; Senate Approved Bill Last Month

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon House on Thursday passed SB 281, which adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of medical conditions which qualify patients for the protections of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. The bill now heads to Governor John Kitzhaber's desk.

The Oregon Senate had already approved the bill last month on a 19-11 vote.

If the bill is signed by the Governor, Oregon will join New Mexico, Connecticut and Delaware as the fourth state to specifically recognize PTSD as an eligible condition for medical marijuana. The bill had bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.

Numerous studies have found that marijuana can be an effective treatment for severe PTSD symptoms. At least 20 percent of soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, according to a 2008 RAND Corporation study, reports the Marijuana Policy Project.

Patients with PTSD, who often have trouble tolerating the side effects of pharmaceuticals prescribed for PTSD indications such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and social isolation, find that medical marijuana is a helpful alternative. There is also evidence that use of medical marijuana reduces the risk of accidentally overdosing from traditional prescription drug cocktails.

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