By Pioneer Pete Gendron
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Many are decrying the death of the OMMP after the passage of SB 1057, SB 56 and HB 2198 this last legislative session—and these bills did make major changes. I’d like to take a contrarian view on what is happening, and talk about our cannabis programs in Oregon and how they have grown up.
The OMMP celebrated its 18th birthday last November 3 to little fanfare. That is surprising when we consider that 18 is the age of maturity in our society. I can’t tell you how many parents are delighted when their little one, all grown up, is done with school and ready to move out of the house and get a job.
That’s exactly what the State legislature did with the OMMP. They said: “You’re all grown up now, we gave you the keys to the car and you got your first job, and now it’s time to be an adult, move out and earn a living!” These references are to the passage of bills prior to M91, which allowed patients to grow more plants, retail sales to occur under the OMMP dispensary system, and producers to be compensated for their labor.
Our baby’s all grown up! A full adult by society’s standards (although it can’t smoke itself yet), and ready for the responsibilities that go with maturity (we hope). Not to that mention the guardians of our favorite child, —OHA—treated our baby terribly, alternately neglecting and abusing the OMMP since infancy. When caught stealing from our offspring, the response of the OHA was: “You live in our house, so we keep the money you earn and spend it how we want. It’s ours now, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” That’s no way to raise a responsible adult, if you ask me.
Many have decried M91 as the death of medical marijuana. But the legislature was about to change the program whether or not the voters—the parents—chose to. “Wake up! You need to make money!” was the cry in the statehouse. (My apologies to 21 Pilots for that last line. I’m the parent of teenagers and young adults, too.) So the newly 18 and wage-earning part of the OMMP moved into new digs. The OLCC had space, so medical sales packed up and moved out for a new, bigger job opportunity.
But they didn’t take everything with them. Much like the bedroom that your college-bound kiddos never really empty, or the stuff left in the garage they’ll be back for later (I promise, Mom.…), many good parts of the OMMP remain as more than memories.
While the legislature essentially gave the retail program to the OLCC, for dispensary owners it was a business decision to make the switch from medical to adult use. Patients represent only about 10% of sales, so business owners chose to cater to a larger market while still being able to provide medicine to patients tax-free.
Please, don’t forget while you’re dissecting my flawed analogy that 80% of OMMP growers are not affected by the new rules. You read that right. Over 20,000 mom-and-pop growers of 6–12 plants (1–2 cards) will face no major changes as a result of this year’s legislation Only the 20% of growers—those with three or more cards—are required to scale back their gardens or start reporting into the METRC system. For some, who have had significant problems with the OMMP reporting system, this is not a bad thing. Because medical growers have no path to market right now (at least within Oregon), about 5000 OMMP growers have the ability to sell some of their produce into our retail outlets.
What about the remaining patients? The OHA had taken over $9 million a year from our poorest citizens (48% of OMMP participants qualify for means-tested, reduced card fees) and spending it on other programs. This, too, stopped this legislative session. Veterans pay a reduced card application fee of $20 (what are you vets waiting for?). A medical card provides tax-free medication and higher concentration products for medical patients at all stores, and allows patients to continue growing for themselves or have a medical grower.
The ACMM (also long ignored by the OHA) is being replaced with a new Oregon Cannabis Commission that will report directly to the legislature, and the OLCC is printing new stationery that reflects a name change to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
So instead of mourning the death of our child (it’ll be home on weekends to do laundry and eat all the food in the house), let’s look at ways to help our newly-minted adult in the next stage of life while making sure our most vulnerable patients are taken care of.
Pioneer Pete hit his funny bone at the Omnibudsman Enterprises office, and will be indisposed for the duration of this vape pen.
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