Last week saw a triad of notable marijuana law and policy developments in Oregon, and our Portland office has been busy fielding questions from clients on a few of these changes. Rather than devote a full blog post to any one item, we have decided to present a round-up of last week’s key developments around the state. Enjoy.
New Pot Testing Rules
On Wednesday, December 14, the Oregon Health Authority released yet another set of temporary testing rules with the intention of “relieving some of the testing burden on producers and processors.” These rules improve on the temporary rules issued on December 2, which were designed to do the very same thing. We wrote that the December 2 rules were still pretty tough, so we were glad to see some progress.
The new rules took effect on Thursday, December 15, and still apply to both medical and retail marijuana items. Batch and sample size requirements are now friendlier to licensees, and the reporting deadlines for labs have been kicked out to January 31, 2017. For an overview of these developments and more, the OHA published a summary bulletin here. If you are an Oregon cannabis producer, processor or lab, we recommend you acquaint yourself yet again with the revised testing regime.
Portland Pot Delivery?
We have never had nice things to say about the City of Portland’s marijuana regulatory program, and our clients’ experiences with its Office of Neighborhood Involvement have been uniformly dismal. When a detailed report surfaced last week indicating that the program is driving people out of business, we were not surprised. That said, if you want to run a delivery service in Portland next year, you probably can!
Marijuana delivery is allowed under state rules with a retail license, although Portland had forbidden it. Last week, the City unanimously approved amendments to its existing regulations to allow for delivery under a “marijuana retail courier” license. Portland has also extended the hours of permissible operation for marijuana business, and now seeks to license microbusiness entrepreneurs (unfortunately). We expect these amendments to be formally adopted by the City Council this week, and hope the City shows some much needed improvement.
Banks Get a Boost
Given the state of federal law, banking is a seemingly intractable issue in the cannabis industry. The Oregon legislature, however, has done everything it can to encourage local banks and credit unions to service cannabis merchants. Last week, a new public poll showed 87% of Oregonians would approve of their bank working in cannabis, a significantly higher approval number than for big box stores (75%), oil (59%) or tobacco companies (52%). This poll should alleviate any remaining “optics” worries Oregon banks might have about working with local cannabis operators. And with Oregon sales tax receipts well ahead of projections as of November 30, we can only hope that Washington D.C. will begin to yield to public opinion on this crucial issue as well.