Op-Ed: Oregon Losing Medical Marijuana Program Growers

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By Anthony Taylor

 

I received a phone call from a staffer in Salem the other day. (A staffer is someone who works in the office of an elected official, agency or department) The caller expressed to me a desire to connect a friend, who is a medical marijuana patient, with a grower.

“Why,” I was asked, “is it so hard for patients to find growers?”

“The new plant limits and reporting system for OHA growers,” I replied, “have driven growers underground–so to speak.”

“How’s that?” was the response.

Here is what I told the caller.

Today nearly 17,000 Oregon medical marijuana patients list no grower and the person’s friend is about to become part of that group.

The plant limits authorized by the legislature reduced the number of large gardens that were using patients to increase the amount of marijuana they could put into the market—whether regulated or unregulated, and limited gardens to 48 plants in rural areas and 12 plants in residential zones in cities.

While state law allows OHA growers to grow for as many patients as they think they can support, the number of plants they may grow is limited. So, the more patients a grower takes on, the less excess that grower will have available for the market and the less money that grower will make.

In addition, an OHA grower growing for other patients, growing for themselves and planning to sell product to a dispensary or growing for themselves at an address other than where they live, must report to OHA all cultivation, processing and distribution of products from that grow site every month.

Finally, if you and your spouse are growing for yourself at your primary residence, you are not selling to a dispensary and you have no more than 12 plants, you do not have to report.

What this means for patients is that the grower pool has shrunk dramatically and continues to do so.

Gone are the days of growers providing for 60, 70, 80 or even 100 patients. Most of the large-scale growers have moved over to OLCC and have not been able, as yet, to bring their patients with them. The growers who did not want to report reduced their grow sites to 12 plants and told patients they were growing for that they would have to find a new grower. Most have not been able to.

In January 2015, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program statistics showed 8,461 patients who did not list a grower.

By October 2016, less than two years later, that number has nearly doubled. (16,333)

So to the staffer who called, This is why patients looking for a grower to provide them with much-needed and, in some cases, life-saving medicines cannot find one.

That is why your friend will have a tough time finding a grower, as well.

© 2016 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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