Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jul 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Jeff Mapes


Gov. Kate Brown, making her first big decision on marijuana policy, 
has signed a sweeping cannabis regulation bill that also reduces 
penalties for several crimes still associated with the drug.

In signing House Bill 3400, the governor expressed concern about a 
provision in the bill making it easier for local governments to 
prohibit marijuana businesses if at least 55 percent of county voters 
had opposed the Measure 91 legalization initiative.

Brown said in a signing statement that she recognized the unusual 
circumstances because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, 
but warned legislators not to adopt this approach on other issues. 
Local government lobbyists have argued that local jurisdictions can't 
be forced to accept businesses that violate the federal prohibition 
on marijuana.

HB 3400 is the Legislature's major attempt this session to set out 
the parameters of the new legal market for marijuana. It includes new 
limits on the size of medical marijuana growing operations, requires 
new testing and labeling standards for cannabis products and allows 
voters in cities and counties to levy up to a 3 percent sales tax on marijuana.

In addition, the measure lowers a number of penalties for the 
remaining marijuana offenses to match them more closely with the 
sentences for alcohol-related crimes. Supporters said it was part of 
their effort to move away from a "war on drugs" approach, and the 
measure also makes it easier for past and future marijuana offenders 
to have a sentence expunged so it doesn't affect their job, housing 
and education prospects.

"As we move forward, it is my expectation that the agencies involved 
[with marijuana regulation] will focus on the principles of public 
safety and consumer protection during the rulemaking and 
implementation period," Brown said, "while also trying to provide an 
environment conducive to small business development."

She said also said that the Legislature will have to continue to deal 
with a number of marijuana-related issues including the possibility 
of "unintended consequences for land use protection."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom