June 30, 2015

Oregon: Early Recreational Marijuana Sales And Marijuana Sales Tax Bills Advance

June 30, 2015
oregon house bill hb 3460 medical marijuana dispensaries ommp

oregon house bill hb 3460 medical marijuana dispensaries ommpOn ‘Marijuana Legalization Eve’ in Oregon several marijuana related bills moved forward in the Oregon Legislature. Oregon House Bill 2041 passed on a 24-4 vote and would establish a marijuana sales tax that adds up to 20% (17% state tax, 3% local tax). Oregon is just one of five states to not have a standard statewide sales tax. Usually the term ‘sales tax’ is avoided at all costs in Oregon because it’s politically undesirable, but apparently not when it comes to marijuana, at least according to Oregon politicians.

Oregon Senate Bill 460 passed in the Oregon Senate on a 23-6 vote. The bill would allow recreational marijuana sales to begin early in Oregon via established medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill would allow adults over 21 to buy up to 7 grams of marijuana in flower form, in addition to clones and seeds. Edibles, concentrates, and all other forms of marijuana would not be allowed for early recreational marijuana sales.

And in a major defeat to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, House Bill 3400 passed on a 24-4 vote. The bill dramatically rolls back the limits and provisions of the Oregon medical marijuana program, including the following, per Oregon Live:

–Limiting the size of medical marijuana growers.  Existing growers can have no more than 96 plants — or 24 if they are in an urban neighborhood — and new growers will be limited to half of those numbers.

–Marijuana businesses can be barred by a vote of a city council or county commission in the 15 eastern Oregon counties where at least 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91.  In the rest of the state, voters have to approve any attempt to ban these businesses.  Any locality that bans any type of marijuana business cannot implement a local tax.

–Marijuana products must meet standardized testing procedures to protect consumers from mold, mildew and other contaminants — such as the high pesticide concentrations found in an investigation conducted by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

–Marijuana-laced edibles cannot be in a packaging attractive to children.

–People who own or work in the marijuana business must have been a resident of the state for two years.  Investors can come from out of state.

–Recreational growers will face strict “seed to sale” tracking requirements.  Medical marijuana growers will also be required to do regular reporting of their sales and inventory.

Think that some of those new medical marijuana program provisions suck? You are not alone. They are going to hurt many patients, many of which will either be forced to go to the black market or go without medicine altogether. I know that some politicians will say that ‘those patients can just go to a dispensary!’ but not all patients can afford to go to a dispensary. That’s why they entrusted a friend or family member to grow for them, or grew it for themselves, at a much more affordable rate. Unfortunately the only thing that stands in the way of the harmful provisions of the bill becoming law is the Governor’s signature, which I think is all but guaranteed at this point. It breaks my heart to know that out of all of the Oregon Representatives and Senators, only five of them were willing to oppose these changes to the Oregon Medical marijuana program.

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