Last week, the Oregon Senate unanimously approved legislation to allow local governments to enact reasonable restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries. As passed by the Senate, SB 1531 would allow municipalities to develop rules about where, when, and how dispensaries can operate. Unfortunately, the bill was amended to allow municipalities to completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Oregon legislature passed a bill creating a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program last year. The legislation required the state health authority to create thorough regulations dispensaries must adhere to. These regulations ensure the dispensaries are run responsibly. There is no reason to deny patients access to their medicine simply because of where they happen to live. If you are an Oregon resident, please ask your representative to oppose this unnecessary proposal.
Regulated medical marijuana dispensaries are no more harmful to a neighborhood than a coffee shop. It makes little sense to allow cities to ban them completely when they provide a necessary service to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to advance a proposal that would put an initiative on November’s ballot asking if marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. The vote means the proposal made it past the first committee deadline. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee. If you are an Oregon resident, please email your lawmakers today and ask them to support this sensible idea.
The bill, SB 1556, would ask voters in November if adults 21 and older should be allowed to legally use, possess, and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It would also task the Oregon Legislature with deciding how best to regulate commercial production and retail sales of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Even lawmakers who oppose the idea of treating marijuana like alcohol can support the idea of giving their constituents the ability to vote on the proposal themselves, so please ask your lawmakers to vote “yes” on SB 1556 today.
If Governor Kitzhaber can hear the “drumbeats [of inevitable marijuana policy reform] from Washington and Colorado,” so can Oregon lawmakers.
In yet another case of people with disparate political ideas coming together to support marijuana policy reform, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) president Grover Norquist held a press conference Thursday to announce the release of a white paper protesting the unjust application of tax codes to marijuana businesses, Legal Cannabis Dispensary Taxation: A Textbook Case of Punishing Law-Abiding Businesses Through the Tax Code.
Under current policy, marijuana businesses are not permitted to deduct many of their operating expenses and are forced to pay significantly more taxes than other industries.
Earlier this year, Rep. Blumenauer introduced H.R. 2240, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, to eliminate the unfair treatment of legitimate marijuana businesses by the IRS. The bill is supported by ATR, the National Cannabis Industry Association, MPP, and more than a dozen members of Congress.
Just as marijuana reform advocates predicted, marijuana in a legal market will be safer for users. In response to Colorado and Washington’s legalization laws, laboratories are springing up that test marijuana for its safety, purity, potency, and active ingredients.
Like alcohol, the regulatory boards in Colorado and Washington will require marijuana products to carry health warnings, ratings for potency, and certification that the product meets safety standards. The regulations are designed to control for adverse health effects that could result from a consumer’s lack of knowledge or from a producer’s poor growing techniques.
Labs are also moving into Oregon, following the state legislature’s recent approval of a bill to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries. Medical experts, politicians, and marijuana research groups have chimed in to support the proposed state requirements for testing.
From the Washington Post:
“This does demonstrate a shift in how we are beginning to treat marijuana in this country,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for MPP. “Legal products are regulated and sold in a controlled marketplace. And that’s what we are going to see – are already beginning to see – with marijuana, be it for medical purposes or simply for adult use.”
While many spent the past few days celebrating with friends and family, the Oregon Legislature was still hard at work in Salem. Last Wednesday the state Senate passed an amended version of HB 3460 – a bill to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. On Saturday the House agreed with the Senate version, meaning the bill is one signature away from bringing safe and consistent access to the nearly 55,000 medical marijuana patients in Oregon. The bill is now awaiting Gov. Kitzhaber’s signature.
HB 3460 – a summary can be found here (PDF) – would create medical marijuana facilities that will be allowed to transfer usable marijuana and immature marijuana plants to medical marijuana patients and their designated primary caregivers. If signed, Oregon will become the 13th state with legal medical marijuana dispensaries. If you are Oregon resident, please ask the governor to sign HB 3460.
Big thanks are in order to Sam Chapman and Oregonians for Medical Rights who orchestrated the lobbying effort to see this bill through.