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Mj Laws Changing In Oregon?


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Medical Pot Bill Advances Posted by CN Staff on June 20, 2013 at 04:36:58 PT

By Saul Hubbard, The Register-Guard

Source: Register-Guard


medical.gif Salem -- Lawmakers are advancing a plan that would legalize and regulate medical marijuana retailers in Oregon, a move that proponents say would eliminate the legal gray area where as many as 200 such facilities already are operating.

On Wednesday, the Legislature’s chief budget committee approved House Bill 3460 by a comfortable margin. The bill now heads to the House floor, with a vote expected next week.



Under the existing rules of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, the 53,000 individuals prescribed marijuana by a doctor can either grow their own or reimburse a state-registered grower to do so for them. Growers aren’t legally allowed to turn a profit, only to be reimbursed for supplies and utilities needed for cultivation.

That setup isn’t practical for many cardholders, advocates say, and retail sites, known as “dispensaries,” have emerged as natural middlemen between patients and growers.

They aren’t legal, but in many instances law enforcement officials treat them with a “hands-off” approach.

There have been some high-profile exceptions, however, including two raids on dispensaries in Eugene in the past year and a series of raids of Medford facilities last month.

Under HB 3460, all dispensaries would have to purchase an annual $4,000 license to cover the costs of administering the new state program.

Dispensaries would have to maintain records of the amount of marijuana they receive and sell, which law enforcement or program administrators could inspect. They couldn’t be located in residential areas, or within 1,000 feet of schools or of one another. They would have to test all marijuana sold for pesticides, mold and mildew.

While dispensaries couldn’t turn a profit, they could recoup from their sales any costs associated with purchasing marijuana from growers or their operations, including rent, staff salaries and supplies.

Rep. Peter Buckley, an Ashland Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said Wednesday that its intent is “to try to get some regulation” on existing dispensaries.

Rep. Tim Freeman, a Roseburg Republican, said he can’t support the bill because it doesn’t include financial aid to law enforcement to help crack down on dispensaries that don’t become licensed and therefore continue to operate illegally.

“There’s nothing in the bill that gives law enforcement more teeth to eliminate the illegal ones,” he said.

Sen. Alan Bates, an Ashland Democrat, said he supports the bill because it means “at least we’ll know which (dispensaries) are legal ones,” although he noted that illegal marijuana sales could still occur in legal premises.

The legislation leaves other issues unaddressed, Bates added, including “huge pot farms” in Southern Oregon that ostensibly grow medical marijuana for Oregonians but which produce “pot that has been traced all over the United States.”

Sen. Fred Girod, a Stayton Republican, said the state’s medical marijuana program has essentially “made it a legal drug here in Oregon.” HB 3460 continues that trend, he said.

“I can’t agree with the path we’re going down,” he said.

The bill scored two high-profile endorsements this week from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum — who received significant financial support from pro-­marijuana groups during her campaign last fall — and from the League of Oregon Cities. Conversely, opposition from law enforcement groups has been muted throughout the session.

Should HB 3460 become law, rules for dispensaries will most likely still be fine-tuned by the Oregon Health Authority before the new program becomes operational in 2014, said Geoff Sugerman, a lobbyist for the advocacy group Oregonians for Medical Rights.

Additionally, under the bill, individual cities could adopt further “time, place, and manner” restrictions on dispensaries, he said.

“The goal here was not to write every single rule, it was more to provide a framework so that these businesses could be licensed and regulated,” he said.

Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)

Author: Saul Hubbard, The Register-Guard

Published: June 20, 2013

Copyright: 2013 The Register-Guard

Contact: rgletters@guardnet.com

Website: http://www.registerguard.com/

URL: http://drugsense.org/url/41CoG2gw

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