Response to Question About Out-of-State Business Ownership and Investment Under Oregon's Fledgling Commercial Marijuana Regulations
At the inaugural meeting of the Portland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Measure 91 Chief Petitioner and New Approach Oregon Campaign Spokesperson Anthony Johnson took questions from the audience of fifty assembled marijuana law reform activists. Responding to a question about out-of-state investment in Oregon marijuana businesses, Johnson said, "If I had to predict, I think there will be some type of a residency requirement, at least a manager or a co-owner that's an Oregon resident, at least for a few years under the [marijuana] licensing system."
Colorado requires two years of residency for all applicants for commercial marijuana licenses. During the first six months of Colorado commercial legalization, only currently-operating medical marijuana retail licensees were allowed to become recreational retail licensees. During the first nine months, retail licensees were required to grow seventy percent of the product they sold. Washington State requires three months' residency for commercial licensing and financing. According to Johnson, "Measure 91 was silent on residency requirements."
Statement from Portland NORML Executive Director Russ Belville
"As the nation's marijuana consumer lobby, we stand for the smart regulation of marijuana," remarked Portland NORML's Russ Belville. "However, we are opposed to burdensome restrictions on marijuana licensing that would stifle competition, which only hurts consumers in the long run. Requiring an Oregon resident to be responsible for an Oregon commercial marijuana license is reasonable, but limiting investment and commercial participation only to Oregon residents runs counter to free market principles that will best serve responsible adult marijuana consumers."
Portland NORML stands for the 71 percent of Portlanders who passed Measure 91 as written and want to see those regulations implemented as approved by 56 percent of the state's voters. The organization holds membership meetings on the fourth Saturday of the month at noon at the Tony Starlight Showroom at 1125 SE Madison St. in Portland.
TRANSCRIPT (video available at http://youtu.be/3uW2hkpIAXM)
Audience Q: I'm just wondering what you're feeling, one, what you're feeling about opening licensing just to Oregonians, and two, what do you think that they're [the legislature] going to do with that?
Anthony Johnson: So Measure 91 was silent on residency requirements. I don't really have a position either way on residency requirements, and I'm probably not going to take up a position that. I don't necessarily oppose them. I think the legislators' inclination is to protect Oregon businesses as much as possible, in the small kind of mom and pop shops. And so if I had a crystal ball, trying to predict if there were going to be some type of in-state residency requirement for at least, if not owners or 50% owners or similar to the medical marijuana facilities -- you have to have a manager, a person responsible for the facility be an Oregon resident -- I think that's most likely going to occur. I think the one thing that's probably up in the air is how much investment come from out of state and I think there is a concern about big money come out of state and kind of controlling the market. But at the same time if somebody is a mom-and-pop operation and they want to expand, you know, say there are supplying a medical marijuana dispensary now but they'd like to do expand to both on the medical side and a measure 91 side, and if they have a rich relative that lives in Colorado or California, their ability to get some investment or a loan from them I think is, you know, is probably something the legislators are open to allowing, particularly because no business can get a small business loan from a bank for marijuana business at the moment. So if I had to predict I think there will be some type of a residency requirement, at least a manager or a co-owner that's an Oregon resident, at least for a few years under the licensing system.