At Church and State: Oregon Cannabis Commission Update for August 2018

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The Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC) was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2017 and held its first meeting December 8th later that same year. Members are still getting to know one another and subcommittees are working.

The OCC is required to:

  • Provide advice to the Oregon Health Authority with respect to the administration of ORS 475B.785 to 475B.949;
  • Provide advice to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission with respect to the administration of ORS 475B.010 to 475B.545, insofar as those statutes pertain to registry identification cardholders and designated primary caregivers, as those terms are defined in ORS 475B.791;
  • Develop a long-term strategic plan for ensuring that cannabis will remain a therapeutic option for persons with debilitating medical conditions as defined in ORS 475B.791;
  • Develop a long-term strategic plan for ensuring that cannabis will remain affordable for persons with debilitating medical conditions as defined in ORS 475B.791; and
  • Monitor and study federal laws, regulations and policies regarding marijuana. [2017 c.613 §6]

The Commission is also required to provide a report to the interim committees for Health Care and Judiciary. This report will provide a status update on patients and access to their medicines and will provide legislative concepts to those committees for introduction into Legislative Counsel for drafting into legislation to address some of the issues that will most certainly be raised in the report.

The Commission and its subcommittees are currently working on legislative concepts that will be included in their report to the interim committees that is to be submitted by February 1, 2018. These concepts will come from the Research, Product Integrity, Training, and Patient Access subcommittees and include recommendations such as

The Product Integrity and Diversion subcommittee recommends establishing a state reference lab housed in the Oregon Department of Agriculture to objectively audit labs and randomly test cannabis products to ensure testing accuracy and laboratory integrity. There was also a recommendation that there should be additional funding for the Oregon State Police to investigate and enhance their data systems around cannabis diversion activities and add to the compliance and enforcement efforts for OMMP grow sites.

From the Research subcommittee comes a recommendation to establish a Cannabis Research Center, an idea already proposed by the SB 844 Task Force on Researching the Medical and Public Health Properties of Cannabis and their recommendation to create the Oregon Institute for Cannabis Research. With a $12M budget request over four years it is a big lift but a needed one.

Legislative recommendations from the Training subcommittee cover upgrading all health care professionals in the Endocannabinoid System, tightening OMMP clinics including developing and implementing best practices and additional clinic oversight heretofore non-existent. This subcommittee is also recommending the list of qualifying conditions with cannabis treatment between the doctor and the patient. The subcommittee is also recommending some changes and additions to definitions including removing the word ‘marijuana’ from statute and rule.

The Patient Access subcommittee has not submitted any specific recommendations as yet but ongoing work will be presented at the next meeting. Patient access is the biggest and most complex issue facing this Commission. The patient access subcommittee is also tasked with restructuring the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act where and as needed to facilitate patient access making it an even more daunting task – one that may not be accomplished easily.

This subcommittee has discussed and will include recommendations on establishing patient eligibility, evaluating the grower-patient relationship and direct transfers to patients, how to expand access to cannabis for the residential care community and how to take advantage of the seemingly vast inventory on hand and how to use the OLCC system to provide short-term, temporary relief for the low and fixed-income and indigent patient community.

The Commission will meet again in September and will hold this meeting in Eugene as a kick off to listening tour that is still be discussed and planned. The listening tour is expected to bring quite a turn-out of patient and their caregivers and an opportunity for the Commission to get a better understanding of what patients face in today’s OMMP system and what their caregivers and growers face in providing compassionate care for these patients.

– Anthony Taylor is the President of Compassionate Oregon and has unique access and insights into Oregon’s lawmaking process, much of which takes place in the Capitol building, near the corners of Church and State streets in Salem. Everything shared here are personal opinions and not in his official capacity as President of Compassionate Oregon or the Oregon Cannabis Commission, on which Anthony now serves.

© 2018 Oregon Cannabis Connection. All rights reserved.

Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor is a longtime Oregon marijuana activist and a founder of Compassionate Oregon, one of Oregon's most important medical marijuana patient advocacy groups.

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