oregon legislature

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: Recreational Marijuana Sales Tax Begins Jan. 4

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

All good things must come to an end, it seems, and it's the same with the Oregon weed tax holiday. Recreational marijuana consumers in the state will have to pay a 25 percent sales tax starting Monday, January 4.

The Oregon Legislature earlier this year approved allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot to adults 21 and older, tax-free, starting on Oct. 1, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. But tax-free sales end on Monday, when the state imposes a tax that will last until the end of 2016.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission isn't expected to open state-licensed recreational marijuana stores until late 2016; once that program is up and running, the 25 percent tax at dispensaries will be replaced with permanent 17 percent sales tax at recreational pot stores.

The Oregon Department of Revenue on Tuesday said they are prepared to deal with large sums of cash from dispensaries paying the new tax. Cameras have been added, employees have gotten security training, and a new "cash handling location" has been set up to accept large payments, according to the agency.

Marijuana's Schedule I classification under federal law has kept most traditional banks away from the business, fearing conspiracy charges and money laundering investigations. That means most marijuana transactions must be handled in cash.

Oregon: Hemp Farmers Ask For Help From Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of Oregon hemp farmers, along with residents who want to grow hemo next year, on Wednesday asked state regulators at a hearing to clear roadblocks preventing the industry from thriving. Meanwhile, the hemp industry is thriving in other states with less onerous regulations.

But the types of changes they're asking for would require the help of the Oregon Legislature, not just state regulators, reports Taylor W. Anderson at The Bend Bulletin.

That's where the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association comes in. The group will ask hemp-friendly lawmakers to help fix the issues the state's nine licensed hemp farmers had in their first year of cultivation.

"Right now, the biggest changes to the legislation that we need is regarding greenhouses and propagation freedom," said Courtney Moran, a Portland attorney who is organizing the group. "This is the only crop in Oregon that you cannot grow in a greenhouse or use cuttings or clone."

The Oregon Department of Justice ruled in September that, since the 2009 state law legalizing hemp didn't include the specific word "greenhouse," and because greenhouse isn't included in the dictionary definition of "field," hemp farmers can't grow the plant indoors. Yeah, these guys really need to get out more.

Oregon: Scant Hemp Harvest For Medicine Despite Wide Interest

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michael Hughes could legally grow marijuana in his back yard in Bend, Oregon, if he wanted to. But he can't grow hemp there.

Hughes bought a license to grow hemp, but due to a number of factors, it's still more legally difficult to grow hemp than marijuana and other crops in Oregon, reports Taylor W. Anderson at The Bend Bulletin.

The Legislature authorized hemp cultivation in 2009, despite it being considered marijuana and thus a Schedule I controlled substance federally. The law put the Oregon Department of Agriculture in charge of writing rules and licensing growers.

After taking five years(!) to finish the rules, the agency was finally ready this year for what turned out to be a largely unsuccessful growing season in which just nine licensed hemp farmers got crops into the ground. Those who braved the regulatory environment had to deal with months of uncertainty in a state that last November voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Timidity by the Department of Agriculture to embrace hemp has combined with federal law to cripple Oregon's hemp market, despite commercial interest in creating an industry that could lead the nation, according to farmers, businesses, lawmakers and the agencies overseeing hemp in Oregon and other states.

Oregon: Retail Marijuana Rules Adopted; On Site Consumption Prohibited

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana stores will be prohibited from allowing on site consumption, and wouldn't be allowed to sell both recreational and medical marijuana under preliminary regulations approved Thursday by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

More than 70 pages of rules were approved to govern Oregon's retail marijuana system once it is fully operational next year, reports Jonathan J. Cooper of the Associated Press. While medical marijuana dispensaries were allowed to begin selling to recreational customers 21 and older on October 1, they can do so only until January 1.

By 2017, all companies producing or selling recreational cannabis will be required to follow the OLCC's rules for health, safety, and security. The rules must be in place for Oregon to start accepting applications in January for licenses to operate marijuana businesses.

The rules will limit the size of growing operations to 10,000 square feet indoors, and 40,000 square feet outdoors. The rules are an attempt to control the amount of cannabis entering the legal market. "It's a really tough issue, and I don't think we have the data at this point," said OLCC Chairman Rob Partridge.

The OLCC also bans on site use of marijuana in stores. Employees with medical authorizations can do so in private, along and out of view, but they can't be "intoxicated," whatever that means.

Oregon: Legislature Votes To Allow Recreational Marijuana Sales By Medical Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senate Bill 460, to allow the limited sale of recreational marijuana at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries beginning October 1, passed the Oregon Legislature with a Thursday vote in the House.

The measure, which had already clerared the Senate, passed the House on a 40 to 18 vote, reports Larry Meyer at The Argus Observer. Recreational marijuana sales would otherwise have had to wait until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission got the rules in place sometime next year, leaving customers to buy it through the black market.

Noting that cannabis sales won't be taxed until January, Democratic Rep. Andy Olson said it will take time to get a tax structure in place. The "tax holiday" will help encourage consumers to get their marijuana from a licensed dispensary, wheere it will have been lab tested, rather than on the black market.

State Rep. Cliff Bentz, a Republican from Ontario, Oregon, was one of the 18 "no" votes on SB 460. Bentz said he's "long suspected" that many medical marijuana patients are faking; he cluelessly claimed that this measure "puts the state's blessing" on that.

Bentz also voted against another successful resolution which asked the U.S. Congress to take marijuana off the schedule of controlled substances and allow the cannabis industry access to the federal banking system.

Oregon: Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Law Including Sentencing Reform

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Oregon Rewrites Marijuana Criminal Code to Reduce Most Felonies to Misdemeanors and to Make Prior Convictions Eligible to be Cleared

Law Goes Beyond Other Legalization States to Reduce Harsh Marijuana Sentences and Allow for 78,319 Prior Marijuana Convictions to Potentially be Cleared

Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday signed H.B. 3400, an omnibus bill to implement Measure 91, the marijuana legalization initiative adopted by voters last November. The bill was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives this week.

Measure 91 legalized possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older and regulated commercial production, manufacturing, and retail sales of marijuana. Legalization for personal use took effect July 1, 2015.

As of that date adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home and up to 1 ounce of marijuana outside the home. They may also grow up to four plants at home, as long as they are out of public view. The regulatory structure for commercial retail sales will not be up and running until next year.

In addition to addressing the implementation of Measure 91, H.B. 3400 contains broad sentencing reform provisions that extend well beyond the elimination of criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana and cultivation of up to four plants. The new law reduces most marijuana felonies to misdemeanors or lesser felonies with significantly reduced sentences.

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: Stanford Urges Voters To Write Lawmakers, Protect Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Paul Stanford, director of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News, on Friday called on Oregon voters to write their lawmakers to protect medical marijuana in the state.

"There is a month left of the Oregon legislative session and plenty of time to have an impact on the legislation," Stanford said on his public access television/webcast show "Cannabis Common Sense" Friday night.

"Here are a few things I hope people will testify to the M91 committee about," Stanford said."

"1) Progressive license fees. Why should a company with $10 million in income pay the same license fee as a small business making only $100,000? It will cost far more to regulate the big entities. This is also a great way to level the playing field and help Oregon grow an industry made up of small business and family farms. Progressive fees could also generate substantial revenue from the richest sectors of the new industry.

"2) Support local opt out only after a general election vote. This is the version of the opt out supported by the House members of the M91 committee. SB 964 is only halfway through the process. If enough people focus on this provision, we can change it.

3) Increase the weight limit for household 4 plant gardens. The eight ounce limit applies to the entire household no matter how many people that is. Virtually every home grower will be a felon when they harvest.

Oregon: 2nd Medical Marijuana Dispensary License Filed By Kaya Shack

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Kaya Holdings, Inc., which calls itself the first fully reporting U.S. public company to own and operate a vertically integrated medical marijuana dispensary and medical marijuana grow operation in the United States, on Wednesday confirmed that it has filed an application for an additional license to open its second Kaya Shack™ medical marijuana dispensary in Oregon.

The company, in a prepared statement, announced it "believes that its planned Kaya Shack™ Marijuana Superstore would support revenue-enhancing opportunities currently under development by the Company as well as those under consideration by the Oregon legislature, including potential early recreational sales by existing MMDs as early as early Fall 2015."

"Targeted to be open in 90 days or less to take advantage of potential early recreational sales currently under consideration by the Oregon Legislature, this location is to be launched as a Kaya Shack Marijuana Superstore," said Craig Frank, CEO of Kaya Holdings. "The first class space, with a footprint roughly three times the size of our first Kaya Shack MMD in Portland, was carefully chosen with an eye towards multiple usages to both enhance revenues and broaden branding opportunities.

"The design would also allow for both recreational and medical marijuana sales at the same location (subject to state and local approval), as well as a major profiling of certain proprietary Kaya Farms Grow products currently under development," Frank said.

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

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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: Marijuana Campaign Hires Lobbyist To Pass Expungement Law

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“We are going to put our political muscle behind this to make sure it gets passed.”

New Approach Oregon has hired a lobbyist to help pass bills in the Oregon Legislature that would reduce marijuana offenders’ jail sentences and clear marijuana-related offenses from criminal records.

The group behind Oregon’s law to legalize marijuana is also teaming up with the Bus Project to organize volunteers, host phone banks and win endorsements for House Bill 3372 and Senate Bill 364. Both bills await hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 364 has already passed the Senate.

“We built a powerful organization to legalize marijuana,” said Anthony Johnson, executive director of New Approach Oregon, “and we plan to use it to make sure these bills are passed. Let’s stop ruining lives by treating marijuana as a crime and start saving money by getting people out of jail and giving them a fresh start.”

Click here to sign up to help the new #FreshStartOregon campaign

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: Legislature Fails On Marijuana Legalization; Initiative Campaigns Promise A Solution

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Activists Promise 'Big Announcement' Next Week

Paul Stanford: "These measures are going to be on the ballot"

In light of recent news that the Oregon Legislature has abandoned meaningful reforms, initiative activists are moving forward with a new phase in their campaign to end criminal penalties for marijuana.

"We salute the efforts of Representative Peter Buckley and other progressive-minded legislators," said chief petitioner Paul Stanford, "and we are ready to pick up where they fell and bring a pair of ballot initiatives restoring the progressive pioneer spirit that Oregon is well known for."

Oregon has lagged behind other Western states in bringing reform to marijuana law. Two initiative petitions, IP 21 and IP 22, would change that. "Prohibition doesn't work," Stanford said. "Filling our jails with nonviolent marijuana prisoners is a waste of public resources and people's future. We will end prohibition and end criminal penalties for marijuana."

Oregon's 2014 Initiative 21, a constitutional amendment to end prohibition and stop imposing criminal penalties for marijuana, has 38,000 signatures collected to date. It needs 116,284 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures by July 3rd to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

Initiative 22, a proposed statute to regulate and tax marijuana, and allow farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food, has gathered 25,000 signatures. It needs 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

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: Mandatory Minimums Repealed For Drug Offenses; Probation Expanded For Marijuana

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Strategy Intended To Avert Prison Growth

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Legislature has passed a broad criminal justice bill, HB 3194, that is projected to avert all of the state's anticipated prison growth over the next decade. The bill repeals mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, and expands the use of presumptive probation in marijuana offenses.

The Oregon House passed the measure last Wednesday by a vote of 40-18; the Oregon Senate approved it 19-11 on Monday.

Without action by the Legislature, Oregon's prison population was projected to grow by 2,000 inmates in the next 10 years. This growth, fueled mostly by nonviolent drug offenses, would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million.

In order to get Oregon a better return on its public safety dollars, state officials launched a bipartisan working group to analyze sentencing and corrections trends and to generate policy recommendations for the Legislature. The Oregon Commission on Public Safety used state-level data, the growing body of national research about what works in corrections, and meetings with criminal justice experts to develop the policy options that served as a foundation for HB 3194.

"Oregon's public safety package reflects an emerging national consensus on criminal justice policy that locking up more nonviolent offenders for longer prison terms isn't the best way to fight crime and reduce recidivism," said Adam Gelb, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' public safety performance project.

Oregon: Best Legislative Session Ever For Marijuana Policy Reform?

(Illustration: Where's Weed?)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana policy reform is advancing on multiple fronts in Oregon, with both medicinal cannabis and general legalization measures gaining traction in an increasingly friendly Legislature.

"We are seeing the best legislative session for drug policy reform -- certainly since the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act passed in 1998, and perhaps ever -- this go-round," 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.

In the last week, the Oregon Senate:

• Passed SB 281 on a 19-11 vote. This bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of debilitating medical conditions which qualify patients for the protections of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA).

• Passed SB 40, 24-6. This bill realigns the felony level designations of Manufacturing and Possession to be consistent with the rescheduling in Oregon of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II; and creates misdemeanor marijuana possession (more than one ounce, less than four ounces) and misdemeanor hashish possession (less than 1/4 ounce).

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