Pubdate: Fri, 15 May 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Leland R. Berger
Note: Leland R. Berger is an attorney practicing statewide from inner 
Northeast Portland as Oregon CannaBusiness Compliance Counsel, LLC. 
He assisted in drafting the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, Measure 91 
and testified and lobbied for and against some of the reforms in SB844.


During the 1999 legislative session, the House Judiciary Committee 
was assigned the task of legislation implementing the Oregon Medical 
Marijuana Act. Chair Kevin Mannix, R-Salem, assembled a work group of 
proponents and opponents of the initiative. Ultimately a bill passed 
which addressed and resolved problems caused by unanticipated drafting issues.

During that session, a House Joint Memorial was assigned to the 
committee recommending to Congress that marijuana be rescheduled from 
Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act because it has 
therapeutic value. The committee sent the bill to the floor of the 
House for a vote, notwithstanding Chair Mannix's opposition to 
marijuana law reform. He allowed this to happen because he understood 
that Article IV of our state's Constitution makes the people a 
co-extensive branch of the Legislature when they directly enact 
legislation through the initiative process. He respected the will of 
the people even though he disagreed with it.

Ballot Measure 91, which passed in 2014, legalizes the possession of 
one ounce of marijuana in private anywhere in Oregon and the 
cultivation of four plants at home, with additional possession limits 
on marijuana and marijuana products at home effective July 1 of this 
year. It also requires the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to accept 
applications for production, processing, wholesale and retail 
licenses for adult use on Jan. 4, 2016. And four times in the 
initiative it directs in clear and unambiguous language that the 
Oregon Medical Marijuana Act is to be left alone.

Notwithstanding this language, the Joint Committee Implementing 
Measure 91 took up a bill, SB844, to reform and regulate the Medical 
Marijuana Act. The bill has died, at least for the moment, because of 
a split on the committee on the issue of whether allowing 
municipalities to ban safe access to medical marijuana at 
state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries should require a 
popular vote on the municipalities' decision to ban prior to it taking effect.

This is the third time the Legislature has dealt with the question of 
"local control." The first was in the legislative discussion of the 
law that created medical marijuana dispensaries, HB3460. That 
municipal regulation is limited to reasonable time, place and manner 
restrictions and that there is no legislative authority to ban was 
implicit in that bill.

The second was when the League of Cities and the Association of 
Counties came to the Legislature seeking authority to ban. The 
Legislature allowed a one-year moratorium, from May 1 of last year to 
May 1 of this year, to give municipalities adequate time to enact 
reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Now they have come back again, again seeking authority to ban and 
insisting that local governments be authorized to act without the 
consent of the governed.

We have had the initiative in our state Constitution for over 100 
years. It was added because the Legislature was not responsive to the 
concerns of the electorate. The disregard of the joint committee to 
the will of the people with regard to Measure 91's requirement of 
legislative non-interference with the Medical Marijuana Act is 
tremendously disappointing. But even if the proposed reforms to the 
Medical Marijuana Act were all appropriate, the committee's inability 
to move the bill because a majority of legislators oppose requiring 
municipal governments to seek the approval of those who elected them 
prior to banning dispensaries - thereby denying safe access to state 
registered medical marijuana patients - is appalling.

Legislators need to show the kind of statesmanship in addressing 
Measure 91 that Kevin Mannix showed regarding medical marijuana and 
respect the will of the voters, even if they disagree with it.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom