Oregon Marijuana: The Medical Program Gets Serious

Oregon medical marijuana: more changes coming.
Oregon medical marijuana: more changes coming.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) last week published 100 pages of proposed permanent rules for the medical marijuana program. Per HB 3400, the rules are supposed to take effect on March 1, and because they are such a long time coming, one might get the feeling that OHA is hoping to ram these rules through. That would be a shame, because the rules make some drastic and unexpected changes to the 18-year-old Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

At the same time, the state legislative session began on Monday, and we expect to see the legislature preempt a few of these OHA proposals statutorily, especially given allegations from the likes of Sen. Floyd Prozanski. Mr. Prozanski, who co-vice chairs the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91, alleges OHA has “run amok” and begun a “direct assault” on the medical marijuana program, according to an article in the Oregonian.

On Monday, OHA circulated a memorandum to the Joint Committee, which you can find here. The memorandum walks back some of the more controversial provisions in the 100-pager, like those related to security, operating procedures and waste management, and it also promises to strip out language related to water rights and pesticide requirements (although existing state laws would still apply). In any case, it should be noted that many of the OHA changes are required under HB 3400, so the agency’s overall discretion is somewhat constrained.

For a high level summary of major changes in the proposed rules—including recordkeeping, reporting, plant count limits, grow site grandfathering, processor registration, and residency requirements—your best bet is an OHA memo titled “Medical Marijuana Changes.” The memo is broken out to cover these and other topics, most of which will form the new regime. We will be helping many of our OMMP clients transition into this regime, as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Although these rules are not yet final, the opportunity for public comment to OHA has ended. However, HB 4014, HB 4132 and SB 1511, currently under consideration in the legislature, all touch on medical marijuana to some degree (as a bonus, HB 4094 covers marijuana banking). Testimony is being taken on all of these proposed pieces of legislation as we speak, and anyone wishing to be heard should check the schedule and head down to Salem at the next opportunity.