Oregon Health Authority proposes rule changes
The Oregon Health Authority will propose changes to its cannabis business regulations next month. In a memo sent this week to the agency's Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee members and the Legislature's Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization, OHA is proposing to:
- Push back the effective date for enforcement of new labeling, testing and concentration rules to October 1, 2016. This puts OHA's timetable in line with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's planned start date for OLCC-licensed retail sales
- Change temporary rules on concentration limits for retail medical products and retail recreational products
The Oregon Cannabis Association has advocated for reasonable potency and packaging limits on retail recreational extracts and edible products. We have also been a vocal proponent of policies to ensure that limits on medicinal products make sense for OMMP patients.
OHA says it intends to address its new proposals at the next rules advisory committee hearing on March 31.
In a February 2 memo to the Joint Committee, OHA also proposed to modifying or removing security, waste removal and water rights language from its draft rules for OMMP producers.
The short legislative session is moving quickly toward the finish line. Senate President Peter Courtney is expected to announce soon that sine die is imminent. Soon after that announcement, legislative committee hearings will move to a one-hour public notice timeline.
On Monday, the Oregon House of Representatives voted 48-11 to support HB 4014, a technical fix bill that includes provisions to lift residency requirements for cannabis businesses. The Oregon Cannabis Association has made repealing residency requirements a priority because they have the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for Oregon businesses, especially small businesses and businesses owned by women and people of color, to attract needed investment.
HB 4014 also includes provisions to adjust some criminal penalties for cannabis, to reduce the cost of OMMP cards to $20 for veterans, and to create a pilot program to reduce cannabis use among youth. The bill is now headed to the Senate floor, with a vote likely Friday or Monday. The Oregon Cannabis Association is working with allied lobbyists to touch base with Senators prior to the vote, and we are hoping for a strong vote in the second chamber.
This week, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization adopted the -16 amendments to SB 1511 and then voted unanimously to send the bill to the Senate floor with a “do pass” recommendation. The bill includes the Oregon Cannabis Association’s other top priority: ensuring that OMMP patients can purchase products tax-free at OLCC-licensed stores.
SB 1511 also has other provisions the Association supports, including
- Expanding Oregon’s successful “early start” program by authorizing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell certain cannabinoid edibles, topicals and extracts to adults who are not OMMP cardholders until December 31, 2016.
- Including a “stay” on plant limits for OMMP growers in good standing who have submitted applications to OLCC and/or OHA.
The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor early next week.
The third cannabis related bill from the Joint Committee is SB 1598, which has been referred to as a “Christmas Tree bill.” The committee took public testimony on the bill this Tuesday, and it is anticipated the committee will move it on February 23rd. We are working with legislators to anticipate which amendments will be incorporated into this bill, but it appears there will be an attempt to address the concerns of the Sungrown Growers Guild through a limited carve-out from the Land Use Compatibility Statement requirement for certain small growers. The committee will consider other amendments and adopt those that are near consensus.
Due to the late target date of February 23 for a work session to move SB 1598 out of committee, this bill may face challenges making it all the way to finish line just based on timing. The final week of session is notorious for unrelated politics encroaching on bills that have a high profile or those considered in some way controversial. We will keep you posted on the progress and final content of the bill as amendments are adopted.
Finally, Rep. Tobias Read has sponsored a bill to update Oregon law to remove criminal liability from banks and credit unions do business with licensed Oregon cannabis businesses. HB 4094 also directs the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to look into temporary state-level solutions to banking access until federal relief is available.
The Oregon Cannabis Association supports HB 4094, which moves to the House floor later this week.