Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian

Editorial Agenda 2015


 From the moment that lawmakers established the Joint Committee on 
Implementing Measure 91, committee co-chair Sen. Ginny Burdick, 
D-Portland, was adamant that the voter-approved recreational 
marijuana measure was to be viewed as mere guide for pot's 
legalization, not the final word. Documenting her claim now is Senate 
Bill 844, with its voluminous Dash-6 and short Dash-7 amendments, 
going before the committee Wednesday and again next Monday.

Significantly, the proposed legislation would establish detailed 
operating rules and production limits for growers of medical 
marijuana that are aimed at choking off the black market while 
bringing accountability to pot production. Significantly, too, some 
medical growers and dispensary operators, along with many patients 
served by them, are panicked that their world is somehow ending.

It's not, and the bipartisan committee should say yes to SB844 as 
amended - if not by Wednesday, then by next week.

This is Oregon's chance to create for itself a profitable, safe, and 
accountable market that legally supports both recreational and 
medical marijuana  and at the same time show all states it is 
possible to move away from prohibition without creating costly social 
or ethical problems.

To do both, however, the regulatory framework for Oregon's 
well-established medical marijuana program, bloated by 
oversubscription and product overproduction, needs overhaul so as not 
to undercut an emerging competitive recreational market.

SB844 is a step in the right direction. Leakage is risky and illegal.

Those who leak are suppliers of a federally prohibited substance and 
thus criminals.

What used to be unmentionable is something called "leakage," or the 
diversion of excess Oregon-grown medical marijuana to illicit, or 
black, markets across the United States. Leakage is risky for the 
grower or producer and illegal, because it makes of those who leak 
suppliers of a federally prohibited substance and thus criminals. 
Jeff Mapes of The Oregonian/OregonLive attributed to Rob Patridge, 
chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the claim that as 
much as 75 percent of all medical marijuana produced in Oregon heads 
to the black market.

And yet Measure 91, calling for the legalization of recreational 
marijuana, was in part birthed to decriminalize the drug and reclaim 
state and local law enforcement resources wasted on hunting down 
users and dealers.

Here again, SB844, in taking dead aim at leakage associated with 
medical marijuana production, ironically serves the will of 
Oregonians who in November voted to embrace legalized recreational marijuana.

Looking ahead, SB844 will help ensure that new marijuana producers in 
Oregon enter a legible regulatory climate and enjoy unquestioned legitimacy.

Burdick had initially aimed to get the bill out of committee by 
Wednesday night but was persuaded by a few committee colleagues, 
among them Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, and Sen. Floyd Prozanski, 
D-Eugene, to slow down. That's fine. A brief delay could help allay 
fears, most passionately expressed by Alex Rogers at the online 
Marijuana Politics site, that Burdick's committee is dismantling 
Oregon's medical marijuana program, placing clinic patients at risk 
and otherwise engineering regulatory intrusions into the work of 
growers both commercial and personal.

Rogers called on his readers to make direct appeal to Burdick's 
committee, and as of midday Tuesday more than 400 emails had been 
received, Burdick told The Oregonian/OregonLive editorial board.

Unchalleged by Rogers, notably, is the committee's desire to curb the 
ability of local governments to ban medical marijuana dispensaries - 
a good thing for medical marijuana users.

Surely SB844 can undergo further examination and perhaps, even, 
tweaking. But few who scour it will find that it does anything but 
what it rationally sets out to do: bring accountability to 
marijuana's production in service to helping decriminalize a drug 
that Oregonians may freely and legally purchase.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom