Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed four pieces of cannabis-related legislation this year, including two on Monday. One of the bills signed this week, HB 4094, will ensure that financial institutions that serve both medical and nonmedical cannabis businesses will not be subject to state criminal laws. The other, SB 1524, makes it easier for veterans who receive services from the VA health system to renew medical marijuana registrations.
Her signatures follow last week’s signature on SB 1511, the second of two broad cannabis bills passed this year. That bill includes provisions that will allow businesses serving adult consumers to provide medical marijuana products. It also allows medical marijuana dispensaries to sell concentrates to adult consumers.
The other broad marijuana bill, HB 4014, allows out-of-state investors for marijuana-related businesses along with other changes, and was signed on March 3.
With these signatures, attention can now turn more fully to the roll-out of licenses for businesses that will serve the adult consumer market. Many of the changes that came from legislation this year will make it easier for that transition to take place, including provisions that help established medical marijuana businesses enter into the adult retail market.
A bill that would make several changes to the Oregon medical and adult use marijuana programs passed the House yesterday on a vote of 48-11.
HB 4014 would lower the annual patient registration fee for veterans from $200 to $20, and it would allow medical cannabis patients on probation to be treated the same as if they were administering a prescribed pharmaceutical medication. It would also allow patients who have submitted physicians’ statements to receive medical marijuana before the state issues registration cards — avoiding what for many can be a long delay.
HB 4014 also makes significant changes for businesses. In particular, it would remove current residency requirements for business owners and investors. This has been somewhat controversial — while many support this change as a way for local businesses to get access to much-needed loans, others oppose it as creating more competition for smaller, locally owned shops.
If you are an Oregon resident and support HB 4014, please take a moment to ask your senator to support this important bill and pass it without delay.
Two other bills may also advance this week, including one that makes clear that banks serving marijuana businesses would not be subject to state criminal laws, and another that would allow nonmedical retail businesses to serve medical patients without imposing taxes.
Monday marked the start of the application process for those seeking to operate a business that would serve the adult retail market in Oregon. Applicants can now apply to be a non-medical marijuana producer, processor, wholesaler, laboratory, or retailer, or obtain a research certificate, on the state’s website.
This stage marks an important milestone in the transition now underway in the state. Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries participating in early-start recreational sales can provide cannabis for adult consumers, with dedicated shops serving the adult market coming online late this year. Monday also marked the first day that sales taxes apply for retail transactions. Participating medical dispensaries are now taxed at 25% for non-patient sales, but the sales tax could be as low as 17% for those with retail licenses.
State licensing officials report they will focus on cultivation and testing lab applications at the outset to help ensure production can begin as early as possible, and licenses could be issued in the spring. Retail shops are expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year.
A Gallup poll released Wednesday shows 58% of adults in the United States think marijuana should be made legal, up from 51% in October 2014. Just 40% think it should remain illegal.
The national poll of 1,015 adults was conducted October 7-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%. The full results are available at here.
Americans' support for legalizing marijuana is the highest Gallup has measured to date, at 58%. Given the patterns of support by age, that percentage should continue to grow in the future. Younger generations of Americans have been increasingly likely to favor legal use of marijuana as they entered adulthood compared with older generations of Americans when they were the same age decades ago. Now, more than seven in 10 of today's young adults support legalization.
But Americans today -- particularly those between 35 and 64 -- are more supportive of legal marijuana than members of their same birth cohort were in the past. Now senior citizens are alone among age groups in opposing pot legalization.
These trends suggest that state and local governments may come under increasing pressure to ease restrictions on marijuana use, if not go even further like the states of Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in making recreational marijuana use completely legal.
Beginning tomorrow, adults 21 and older in Oregon will be able to legally purchase limited quantities of marijuana and marijuana plants from certain medical marijuana dispensaries. This allowance, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Kate Brown, gives adults a legal and regulated access point to purchase marijuana while the state develops the regulatory structure that will govern the marijuana market moving forward.
Individuals 21 and older will be allowed to purchase up to seven grams of marijuana and up to four seedlings from participating medical marijuana dispensaries. The state requires a dispensary to post a sign indicating whether they sell to recreational customers or if they limit sales to medical marijuana patients and caregivers, but it will not keep a list of dispensaries that have chosen to open their doors to all adults 21 and older.
Please remember that it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in public. Violators may be issued a Class B violation, which is akin to a traffic ticket. For more information, please visit the Oregonian’s FAQ page.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday that would enable adult residents of the state to legally purchase marijuana starting in October. The private use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana became legal this past July, but the state has not begun accepting applications for retail permits. In order to effectively limit the operational scope of illicit market actors before a regulated system is established, representatives from both parties agreed to allow customers to purchase marijuana, tax free, from medical marijuana facilities.
"The bill ... passed with significant bipartisan support in both chambers after a great deal of work by an implementation working group," said Brown's spokeswoman Kristen Grainger.
The law is explicitly temporary and will only allow non-patients to purchase marijuana until December 31, 2016. Applications for retail dispensaries are likely to be accepted starting in January 2016. Oregonians can expect the first adult retail shops to open next autumn.
Earlier today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in the Senate that would banks to do business with the marijuana industry in states where it is legal for medical purposes or adult use.
Introduced by the Senate delegations from Oregon and Colorado, two of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the bill would prohibit the federal government from penalizing banks that work with marijuana businesses.
Though four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That makes it difficult for businesses operating in those legalized states to access financial services through the banking industry. Instead, those companies have to run all-cash operations that the senators say invite crime.
The entire legal landscape that legal marijuana currently faces is “insane,” said GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado in an interview.
According to a press release from Drug Policy Alliance, "Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) introduced the House version of this Senate bill earlier in the year, having also introduced a banking bill the previous session."
Last November, 56% of Oregon voters approved Measure 91 — choosing to regulate marijuana like alcohol and allowing adults to use, possess, and cultivate it. Today, legal protections for adult possession, use, and cultivation official take effect!
As of 12:01 a.m., individuals 21 or older may possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and grow up to four plants in their household. Adults may also gift up to an ounce of marijuana to other adults. The state is setting up regulations that will govern the production and sale of marijuana, so access is currently limited to home cultivation. However, the state is considering legislation that will allow medical dispensaries to sell limited quantities of marijuana to any adult 21 and older starting this October.
Measure 91 resembles ballot measures that have removed penalties for adults’ possession and use of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Colorado and Washington have implemented effective public health and safety regulatory structures governing the production and sale of marijuana, and Alaska and Oregon are in the process of doing the same. In the meantime, ask your state representative and senator to support legislation that will more quickly take the marijuana market from criminal actors.
None of this would be possible without the good and hard work of the New Approach Oregon campaign, their volunteers, and, of course, the voters of Oregon. For more information about Measure 91, please see our summary.
Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) are introducing an amendment to a Department of Justice spending bill intended to prevent the federal government from enforcing federal marijuana laws against individuals and companies who are operating in compliance with the state laws regulating marijuana.
This amendment will not only protect critically ill medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution but, unlike previous versions, will also apply to adult use of marijuana in states where it is legal, like Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon.
A new study shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want the federal government to stay out of state-level affairs associated with changes in marijuana law.
The survey found Americans split on the question of full legalization, with 50 percent supporting versus 47 percent opposed. However, the poll did find that six in ten respondents said that states, not the federal government, should decide whether to make marijuana legal. Moreover, 67 percent of Americans said Congress should go further and specifically carve out an exemption to federal marijuana laws for states that legalize, so long as they have a strong regulatory system in place.
How this would work for marijuana is detailed in an exhaustive forthcoming study in the UCLA Law Review. In short, Congress could allow states to opt out of the Controlled Substances Act provisions relating to marijuana, provided they comply with regulatory guidelines issued by the Department of Justice.
This is already the de-facto federal policy toward Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, although it cannot become a formal policy without an act of Congress. Third Way heartily endorses this approach, as it represents a “third way” between the current policy of outright prohibition, and the full legalization route favored by marijuana reform activists.
It is time for Congress to get out of the way and let states determine what marijuana policies work best for them.