By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis connection
July 5, 2017 – Oregon’s HB 2198 solidly passed the House today on a vote of 48 to 11. The bill would create a new cannabis commission and allow some medical marijuana growers to sell up to 20 pounds of excess cannabis into the recreational marijuana market. It now heads to the Senate for approval only a few days before the end of the 2017 legislative session.
Anthony Taylor of Compassionate Oregon explained on their Facebook page on May 30, “If HB 2198 does not pass, the OMMP will be gone by this time next year for growers providing for patients unable to provide for themselves. It will be too expensive for most.”
“Colleagues, I think you realize at this point that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program is a shadow of it’s former self,” explained Representative Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) before the vote. “Since the passage of Measure 91, there has been a mass migration to the highly regulated OLCC system, and that leaves a much smaller OMMP which is badly in need of modernization and that’s what this bill does.”
Many patients and growers in the OMMP think that a lot more could have been done, but there was little support in Salem for major changes. The original HB 2198 became a “gut and stuff” bill that only carried forward some of its original proposals.
But, the bill still makes a few important changes, including allowing two registered OMMP patients to grow 12 plants at a single address. Currently, under to SB 1057 which passed earlier in June, only one OMMP patient is allowed to grow their full complement of 6 mature plants.
Anther major provision of the bill is to allow OMMP growers to sell up to 20 pounds of their excess cannabis into the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s licensed recreational dispensaries. This provision alone prompted vocal opposition by the Oregon Cannabis Association, and a number of other recreational growers, who did not want perceived competition from the small medical growers. Fortunately, the Joint Committee on Regulating Marijuana saw the need to allow more medical marijuana into the legal dispensary system, which will provide the growers a legal outlet rather than the illicit market and possible diversion to other states. Preventing diversion is one of the eight factors defined in the Cole Memo, which has driven much of Oregon’s recent policy and rule making on cannabis.
The biggest change in rules is to create a new cannabis commission to oversee the implementation of medical cannabis rules and procedures. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has been unresponsive to patient needs and the commission is empowered to respond to the needs of the OMMP. The commission will essentially replace the current, and impotent, Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana which has seldom had an effect on OHA rules making.
The bill now moves over to the Senate where the vote may be tighter than the House. We encourage all concerned Oregonians to contact their Senator and ask them to support HB 2198, the Cannabis Commission bill. If it passes the Senate, it moves to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature.
To find your senator, go here and enter your address in the window on the bottom of the page.