By Anthony Taylor
Anthony Taylor is the President of Compassionate Oregon and a member of the Oregon Cannabis Commission. He 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.
This year’s legislative session, the first without the Joint Marijuana Regulation Committee, was a short session with a severe limit on how many bills could be introduced. Bills introduced had to work their way through the process—just like any other bill—and, because of that, SB 1544 was assigned to the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D Dist. 18). SB 1544 was the only bill relating to marijuana that managed to stay alive. HB 4110 died in committee after it was decided that the optics of giving away free samples might be less than ideal. House Bill 4089, creating the Oregon Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program and spearheaded by Courtney Moran, passed after two sessions.
This short session, normally allotted 35 days, wrapped up in a mere 30 days. It was over before it started and, if your bill had not had a hearing by the second Thursday in February, it died in committee.
SB 1544, signed into law by the Governor on April 10, 2018, now allows a grower to grow for eight patients, up from four; allows OLCC growers to transfer immature plants to OMMP growers, patients, and caregivers; and requires OLCC processors to meet concentration levels but not packaging and labeling rules.
SB 1544 also extended until February 2019 the date for the Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC) to submit its report to the legislature, which was originally due in December 2017—one week after its first meeting. It also extends the sunsetting of HB 2198, Section 4, to January 2020, rather than July of this year—which will allow the Commission to continue their work relating to proposed legislative concepts through next year.
Under the new law, grow site addresses provided must now include a USPS postal address, if one is assigned, but does not change the ability to use tax lot numbers, GPS, or longitude and latitude coordinates.
With the number of immature plants previously being capped on the OLCC side, they were also supposed to be capped on the OMMP side. But after months of trying to decide what those numbers should be during the bill’s crafting, the Commission was finally left to sort out. That provision will now be in OHA’s proposed rules for SB 1544, but OCC may provide input, if necessary.
The bill also allowed for hemp products to be sold in OLCC stores but they must meet all testing and labeling and packaging requirements.
Also included in SB 1544 was a section that allows stores to be within 500 feet of a school if there is major obstacle between the store and the school—such as a major highway, river, or mountain. It also established the Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Grant Program, which allows some of the tax revenue from retail sales to be redirected and made available for local law enforcement to respond to complaints against grow sites that cannot be verified as either OLCC or OMMP grow sites or other illegal grows discovered by law enforcement.
The original bill fell short in regard to calling for a redefinition of the “12 plant rule” and allowing OMMP growers into the OLCC processing loop. Both of these were left out of the final bill and have been passed over to the Commission.
The “12 plant rule,” under its current interpretation, restricts a grow site where a patient lives and is growing for him- or herself to 12 plants. As for the issue of OLCC transfers to patients, and allowing OMMP growers to transfer to OMMP processors as currently allowed under OMMP, the cannabis must first go to a processor and the processor can then transfer any processed products to a patient or caregiver or to a dispensary.
We can expect more cannabis legislation relating to medical cannabis in the 2019 session and, just like in this past session, all cannabis legislation will have to work through building without the help of the joint committee—which will not always be easy.
Grow Site Administrator Program
The OHA has finally created a Grow Site Administrator Program (GSA) to help streamline the reporting and change mandatory reporting from growers to grow sites. OHA estimates that 2400 grow sites will be required to report using the OLCC METRC system. These grow sites encompass approximately 8000 growers who provide for 16,000 patients.
The forms for becoming a GSA will be available May 1, 2018, and must be completed and returned by May 31, 2018. This will make the GSA responsible for reporting into both systems. OHA will still require OMMP growers who grow for others or patients who grow for themselves at an address they do not live at to continue monthly reporting of immatures, matures, transfers and inventory.
These are critical dates. If your grow site is required to report into the OLCC tracking system and does not have an approved GSA, an active CTS account, and UID tags with all medical marijuana items tagged and all inventory recorded in accordance with OLCC tracking requirements by July 1, 2018, you will not be able to transfer to patients, dispensaries, processors, or 20 pounds to OLCC wholesalers and processors. OHA is having education classes around the state on registering a GSA and the schedule is available here.
METRC training update
The OLCC will have METRC training for OMMP growers available in May and will conduct training seminars around the state until mid-June. Please this article for information on these seminars. You may also check in with your local dispensary or medical marijuana clinic for further information on dates, times, and places, as they will also receive information on this for posting. This is important training for getting started with the METRC tracking system.
You may find training modules on at this YouTube link:
These modules will give you a head start on training and will provide an opportunity to ask better questions when attending the training seminars.