Pubdate: Tue, 16 Jun 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Jeff Mapes


The House-Senate marijuana committee on Monday unanimously approved a 
landmark bill aimed at regulating the upcoming commercial market for the drug.

The panel unanimously approved House Bill 3400 after weeks of 
infighting, primarily over how much power cities and counties should 
have to ban sales in their communities.

Key lawmakers last week agreed to a compromise granting more local 
control in largely rural counties where voters strongly opposed 
Measure 91, the marijuana legalization measure approved by voters 
last November.

While some legislators expressed frustration with how little the 
committee reached out to the public for input, others said they felt 
like they were at a historic turning point.

Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland and the committee's co-chair, said she 
believes the legislation helps position Oregon to someday be one of 
the nation's foremost marijuana producers when and if federal 
controls are dropped.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, said he was frustrated that medical 
marijuana patients and others weren't given more opportunity to 
comment on the legislation. "It's been dysfunctional in many 
respects," he said of the committee process.

Measure 91 placed the production and sale of recreational marijuana 
under the control of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and gave it 
broad regulatory control. HB 3400 grants the commission clear police 
powers to oversee and investigate the industry, and also gives a 
major role to the Oregon Health Authority.

The bill also puts new limits on medical marijuana growers -- needed, 
legislators said, to curb diversions to the black market.

Still to be determined is the question of when retail sales will 
start. HB 3400 leaves that to the OLCC, which says it won't license 
retailers to open until the latter half of 2016.

Legislators say they will soon debate separate legislation that would 
allow temporary sales to recreational users from medical marijuana 
dispensaries. Possession becomes legal on July 1, but it looks like a 
temporary sales program would not start before October -- and 
consumers may have to wait until OLCC-licensed retailers open more 
than a year from now.

Meanwhile, here are the major provisions in HB 3400:

PRODUCTION LIMITS: Medical marijuana growers will face new limits on 
how many plants they can grow. Existing growers will have higher 
limits, at least initially, than new growers. State regulators will 
limit production of recreational marijuana so it stays roughly even 
with demand.

Recreational marijuana growers must adopt a strict "seed to sale" 
tracking system to prevent diversions. Medical marijuana growers can 
enter the recreational market if they meet stricter rules.

PRODUCT REGULATIONS: Edibles and other processed marijuana products 
must disclose their potency and ingredients on labels. Packaging 
cannot be marketed toward children. Testing will be required to 
ensure products are not contaminated. Labs must be certified to make 
sure that people growing and processing marijuana "won't be able to 
shop around for a friendlier lab," said Sen. Ginny Burdick, 
D-Portland and the committee's co-chair.

Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, the other co-chair, said the 
testing provisions look "prescient" in the wake of The 
Oregonian/OregonLive investigation showing that many of the medical 
marijuana products available for sale in Oregon are contaminated with 

TAXES: The committee has not yet passed a companion measure, House 
Bill 2041, that creates a new "point of sale" tax of an estimated 17 
percent on marijuana products at retail. It replaces a per-ounce 
harvest tax contained in the legalization initiative approved by 
voters. HB 3400 allows localities to levy a local tax of as much as 3 percent.

LOCAL CONTROL: City or county governments in the 15 counties -- all 
east of the Cascades -- that cast at least a 55 percent vote against 
Measure 91 can ban medical or recreational sales. In the rest of the 
state, voters would have to approve any attempt to ban sales.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Marijuana business owners must have lived in 
the state for at least two years to operate in Oregon. Investors 
don't face residency limits, but they must pass background checks and 
cannot be primary operators of a business. The residency requirements 
will end after four years unless renewed by the Legislature. 
Lawmakers said they wanted to keep the industry under as much local 
control as possible.

CRIME SENTENCES: The penalties for several marijuana crimes, 
including underage use, are reduced. Among other things, it gives 
violators more of an opportunity to have their crimes expunged from the record.

ADVERTISING: Measure 91 gave the OLCC the authority to regulate or 
even prohibit any marijuana advertising. The Legislature's legal 
counsel said that was unconstitutionally broad, and HB 3400 says that 
the OLCC can curb advertising that appeals to minors, promotes 
excessive or illegal use or otherwise presents a significant risk to 
public health or safety.

ENERGY AND WATER USE: A task force will look for ways to minimize 
water and energy efficiency in the production of marijuana.

MARIJUANA WORKERS: Workers in the industry will get whistleblower 
protection if they report illegal conduct and will have the right to organize.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom