Pubdate: Tue, 28 Apr 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Jeff Mapes


Oregon legislators moved Monday toward putting new limits on medical 
marijuana growers as they shrugged off opposition from some activists 
who worried that they would lose access to low-cost supplies of the drug.

Members of a House-Senate marijuana committee said they expected to 
hold a vote Wednesday on the measure. It is is aimed at more tightly 
regulating medical marijuana growers to reduce diversions to the 
black market as they move toward implementing recreational marijuana sales.

"We are getting this bill out Wednesday," vowed Sen. Ginny Burdick, 
D-Portland, the committee's co-chair, as she and other members 
hastened to assure activists that they could still readily get 
medical marijuana.

"There's not a single person on this panel that wants to take 
medicine away from patients," said Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland.

The proposal -- contained as an amendment to Senate Bill 844 -- 
places new limits on the number of plants in medical marijuana farms 
that would, at least at first, affect only a small number of the 
largest growers in the state.

However, it would put tighter restrictions on new growers and it 
would also put particularly strict limits on grow operations in urban 
residential areas. Committee members said they wanted to reduce the 
impact of these farms on nearby neighbors.

At the same time, the measure would prohibit cities and and counties 
from barring medical marijuana dispensaries, growing operations and 
processors. Local governments would still have the ability to 
regulate their operations.

Here are some of the major limits included in the proposal:

Existing medical marijuana growers in most areas would be limited to 
no more than 96 plants, while newer growers would face a 48-plant limit.

Growers in residential areas within cities would have a 24-plant 
limit if they were in operation before Jan. 1 of this year. Newer 
growers would be limited to 12 plants.

Medical marijuana growers would also have to comply with new 
reporting requirements and could face lower limits if they violate 
the rules. Existing growers could also face lower limits if they lose patients.

The new legislation, first unveiled Friday afternoon, led several 
medical marijuana activists to urge patients to bombard committee 
members with phone calls and emails complaining about the measure.

"It's going to take medicine away from the sickest and most 
disenfranchised patients," said Alex Rogers, who owns a medical 
marijuana dispensary in Ashland and used using social media to build 
opposition to the proposal.

The marijuana legalization measure approved by voters in November 
says that the state's medical marijuana program would continue to 
operate separately. But legislators on the committee said it became 
increasingly clear they need to put additional regulations on medical 
marijuana to make sure it doesn't undercut the recreational market.

Under Measure 91, adults who are 21 and over will be able to legally 
possess and grow small amounts of marijuana starting July 1. Retail 
sales aren't expected to start until late 2016, although legislators 
are considering a proposal to temporarily open dispensaries to all adults.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom