I spoke this past Saturday in Portland, Oregon, at the National Cannabis Industry Association‘s Northwest CannaBusiness Symposium. My panel was on government relations and marijuana legalization and regulation. I shared the stage with Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a known champion of the marijuana legalization movement in Congress and a loyal Oregonian, and two other panelists.
Blumenauer’s talk was a sort of State of the Cannabis Union Address. He talked about the Feds revising banking laws to enable ease of business for marijuana businesses, and just how far the marijuana industry has come since he picked up the fight 40 years ago. Most importantly, Blumenauer forecasted that Oregon would legalize marijuana within the near future.
The panel also focused on Oregon’s future under HB 3460, and whether the bill will actually do much for Oregon marijuana businesses (and patients) while on the path to legalization. While the bill certainly helps create a more defined chain of distribution and legalizes dispensaries, it doesn’t fix Oregon’s issue with monetary “reimbursement” for marijuana entrepreneurs; the classic questions looms large in Oregon for MMJ transactions: is it a sale or is it a donation? HB 3460 doesn’t necessarily clear up that issue.
The most important question for the panel focused on when and how Oregon will legalize. Will it be a bill through the legislature? A people’s initiative? A mix of the two? A copy of I-502 or Amendment 64? Things remain uncertain regarding the details, but all stats (and scholars) point to Oregon legalizing by 2014 or 2016. In my opinion, the sooner, the better for Oregon if its marijuana entrepreneurs want equitable treatment from the State and the overall national marijuana marketplace.