Legislative round up: Residency, expanded access, carve-outs for small farms and more

This Monday, Senate President Peter Courtney announced that sine die is imminent. As committee work wraps up, some hearings may now be scheduled with only a one-hour public notice.

Here is the latest on the Oregon Cannabis Association's legislative priorities and other key bills.

HB 4014: Residency, reduced OMMP fees for veterans, youth prevention and more
On Friday, the Legislature gave final approval to HB 4014, a technical fix bill that includes provisions to lift residency requirements for cannabis businesses. HB 4014 also adjusts some criminal penalties for cannabis, reduces the cost of OMMP cards to $20 for veterans, and creates a pilot program to reduce cannabis use among youth. This bill was a priority bill for the Association.

After being approved by the House by a vote of 48-11, the bill moved through the Senate where it passed 20-6 with four absences. After being approved by the House by a vote of 48-11, the bill moved through the Senate where it passed 20-6 with four absences.  The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for her signature. 

SB 1511: Co-location, early start for edibles and extracts, stays on plant limits
On Tuesday, the Oregon Senate gave approval to SB 1511. The bill includes the Oregon Cannabis Association's other top priority for the session: allowing OMMP patients to purchase products tax-free at OLCC-licensed stores. SB 1511 includes other provisions the Association supports, including expanding Oregon's successful "early start" program to allow OHA-licensed dispensaries to sell extracts, edibles and topicals to adult recreational customers through the end of the year, and offering a "stay" on plant limits for OMMP producers in good standing who have applied to the OHA and/or OLCC for licensing.

The 18-10 vote, which fell along party lines, was closer than it should have been largely because of a partisan squabble over the use of “emergency clauses" in legislation. In Oregon, bills without specified effective dates become effective on January 1 of the following year. Bills with emergency clauses, however, take effect upon being signed by the Governor. But emergency clauses may not be applied to bills that include tax provisions.

In short, there was a legal question about whether SB 1511 and HB 4014 inappropriately included “emergency clauses” given that they include provisions that adjust taxation of the retail cannabis system. The Legislature’s lawyers caught the mistake, and drafted a fourth bill, SB 1601, to fix the drafting errors in SB 1511 and HB 4014.  But the Senate Republicans wanted to make a point, and out of consistency decided to vote the bill even though many members spoke in favor of the content of the bill, and some had in fact voted in favor of the bill in committee.

SB 1511 is scheduled for a vote on the House floor Friday, February 26.

Read more about SB 1511 on OLIS

SB 1598
The third substantive cannabis related bill from the Joint Committee is SB 1598, which has been referred to as a “Christmas Tree bill.”  The committee unanimously approved the bill on Tuesday.   The committee adopted two amendments to the bill, the -25s and the -15s.  These amendments make a number of adjustments: 

  1. Removes requirement that person responsible for marijuana grow site applying for OLCC licensure to get land use compatibility statement if that grow site is outside of city limits, at least on person responsible for the grow site registered with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) prior to January 1, 2015, and is applying for a marijuana grow canopy of 5,000 square feet or less if growing outside or 1,250 square feet or less if growing inside.  However, this provision does not exempt these growers from the underlying land use laws of the state or local jurisdictions. 
  2. Declares marijuana as a farm crop for OLCC licensed marijuana growers, research certificate holders, and those persons responsible for a marijuana grow site registered with OHA prior to January 1, 2015. 
  3. Allows marijuana processor to transfer medical cannabinoid product, concentrate, or extract to OMMP cardholder or designated primary caregiver if OMMP cardholder or designated caregiver provided marijuana processor with marijuana to be processed into medical cannabinoid product, concentrate, or extract. 
  4. Allows OMMP cardholder or designated caregiver to reimburse marijuana processor for all costs associated with processing transferred product. 
  5. Allows person responsible for a marijuana grow site to delegate reporting of tracking information to OHA to another OHA-registered grower at the same grow site address. 
  6. Allows OHA medical marijuana dispensary operated as a nonprofit organization to receive by gift useable marijuana, immature marijuana plants, and seeds from OHA registered cardholders or OLCC licensees and certificate holders. Allows nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary to dispense usable marijuana at discounted price or free of charge if registered cardholder is at or below federal poverty line. Requires OHA adopt rules to implement nonprofit medical dispensary program. 
  7. Requires OHA to solicit proposals for the purpose of choosing one or more entities to conduct public health and consumer safety research relating to marijuana.
  8. Specifies OHA may inspect marijuana grow site of a person designated to produce marijuana by a OHA registered cardholder. Becomes operative March 1, 2016

SB 1598 is in a race against the clock in the closing days of session, but the Oregon Cannabis Association and many in the cannabis business community will continue to support efforts to move this legislation forward in an expedited fashion.  

HB 4094: Helping Oregon banks and credit unions serve cannabis businesses
Rep. Tobias Read's bill to update Oregon law to remove criminal liability from banks and credit unions doing business with licensed Oregon cannabis businesses passed the House last week and is scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor this Thursday. 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.