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


SALEM -- Oregon liquor control officials on Wednesday presented a 
plan for allowing retailers to sell both medical and recreational 
marijuana -- and it seemed to win support from key legislators.

Under the proposal, medical marijuana growers willing to accept 
strict regulatory controls would be able to sell to retailers serving 
both medical and recreational marijuana users.

However, there still does not appear to be any consensus on when 
retail sales of recreational marijuana will actually start.

Rob Patridge, chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told 
legislators Wednesday that the state could run afoul of federal 
officials if they try to start sales before a strict "seed to sale" 
tracking system is in place. That will take until the last half of 
2016, he said.

Several members of the House-Senate committee charged with 
implementing the marijuana legalization initiative approved by voters 
said they still want to start sales not long after possession becomes 
legal on July 1.

Even without strict controls in place, Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake 
Oswego and a co-chair of the committee, said it is still better to 
start bringing marijuana into the legal market even if it's not clear 
it was all grown legally. Lininger and other legislators say they're 
now looking seriously at whether they could start sales on Oct. 1.

In any case, marijuana advocates and people in the industry cheered 
the idea of providing one-stop shopping for both medical and 
recreational users.

"You would have the best of both worlds and not squeeze anybody out," 
said Anthony Johnson, the chief sponsor of the marijuana legalization 
initiative approved last November by voters.

The proposal would allow the more than 200 medical marijuana 
dispensaries in the state to also consider serving the recreational 
market, something many of the dispensary owners have said they would 
like to do.

Legislators would have to make several legal changes to merge the 
medical and recreational marijuana systems. Patridge said he would 
present several amendments to House Bill 3400 -- a measure 
legislators are working on to implement the recreational system -- to 
accomplish just that.

Lawmakers seemed inclined to accept those changes. "This is what I 
hoped we would get to," said Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, who has 
been a strong backer of legalizing marijuana.

At the same time, legislators continued to pepper Patridge with 
questions about starting sales earlier than he has anticipated. 
Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, said it didn't make 
any sense to legalize possession on July 1 but provide non-medical 
marijuana users no legal way to buy the drug.

"Isn't that a direct contribution to incentivizing the black market?" 
asked Ferrioli. "What we're really saying to Oregonians is keep 
accessing your black market supplier until sometime in the last half of 2016."

Patridge countered that he was instead concerned that it could put 
the state at odds with the 2013 memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney 
General James Cole laying out how the Obama administration would 
enforce federal laws against marijuana after voters in Washington and 
Colorado legalized it.

Until the OLCC is ready to start retail sales, Patridge added, people 
can rely on homegrown marijuana. He also noted that the Legislature 
could move back the July 1 date when possession becomes legal, 
although he said, "I don't think you would do that, politically or otherwise."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom