Shock waves were sent throughout the Oregon medical marijuana world this week when the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) issued a directive to medical marijuana dispensary operators to no longer accept cannabis extracts. Cannabis extracts are defined by OHA as involving heat and pressure during the creation process. That means no BHO and no CO2 products. No more shatter. No more cartridges. At least not in the near future.
Only entities that have a license to produce extracts are considered legal by OHA. The problem of course being that there aren't any licenses currently. In fact, the application process doesn't even start until next month for OHA. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will regulate recreational marijuana, which will eventually have its own licenses for extracts. But as of right now there are no licenses issued in the State of Oregon. So when will licenses be issued? Per Oregon Live:
The health authority plans to roll out a licensing process for commercial extract companies, but André Ourso, manager of the state's medical marijuana program, said Tuesday that the application won't be online until April 1.
Applying, he said, is just the beginning of a "long process" for getting registered. In all, he said the process could take "a few months."
"The application has to be reviewed," he said, adding that companies will need to ensure they meet local rules and fire safety requirements. "They still have to get their product tested for pesticides through an accredited laboratory."
That doesn't sound encouraging. It sounds like the best case scenario is mid-summer, and that's assuming there are no delays. Dispensaries are allowed to sell the inventory that they currently have, but if the dispensary takes in any new extract inventory, they run the risk of criminal prosecution. This of course is extremely unacceptable. There is a lot of outcry from the industry, and for understandable reasons. But I'm even more outraged by what this means for patients, especially those that are suffering the most.
Extracts are some of the strongest forms of medicine available to patients. A 5 mg THC edible may do the trick for some, but for those that really, really need some serious potency, extracts really help. A lot of patients use vape pens because of the ease of medicine consumption and because vaporizing is healthier than smoking. However, patients will not have that option in Oregon until extract licenses are issued. Patients will still have other options (tincture, kief, solvent-less hash), but for those that rely on extracts, which again are those that are suffering the most and need the high potency for relief, they will be left to either make due without, or rely on the black market. Which leads me to my next point...
The black market for extracts in Oregon is about to get out of control. Why in the world the State of Oregon would want that to occur, especially after all the strides that have been made, is beyond me. Marijuana extracts are going to be made in Oregon, regardless of the OHA policy, so why not allow them to be done in the light instead of in the shadows? I'd imagine a lot of people that live along the Columbia River will be going to Washington to purchase extracts, which means all of those dollars that could have stayed in Oregon will now be going out of state. And that of course doesn't even begin to touch on how unfair and ridiculous this all is to extract companies who have worked very hard to do all of the right things to appease the State while at the same time try to run a business, which in itself is extremely difficult.
Below is flyer that I saw on Facebook (pardon the typo in the flyer). I think it would be good for OHA to hear from the people that are being affected by this, especially patients that are suffering greatly and have relied on extracts from dispensaries for relief. I get that producing extracts is dangerous, which is why I think that OHA should have a provisional process in place for people to get temporary licenses in between now and when longer duration licenses are issued. To just expect patients and businesses to halt all extract production/purchases is ridiculous. I get that not everyone should be doing it, but to say that no one should be able to do it, at all, under any circumstances? That's irresponsible, and in the case of patients that are suffering the most, outright harmful.