The Oregon Legislature adjourned just after 1pm today. Even though it was a short session, lasting only 32 days, numerous bills that will shape Oregon's emerging cannabis business environment made their way through both chambers with strong bipartisan support.
The Oregon Cannabis Association's two priority bills for the session will soon be enacted. HB 4014, which, among other provisions, lifts the residency requirement for cannabis businesses, was signed by Governor Kate Brown today. This means that businesses whose licensing approval from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission depended upon the passage of this legislation will see their applications move forward. HB 4014 also reduces the cost of OMMP cards to $20 for all veterans, and sets up a pilot program to prevent youth marijuana use.
SB 1511 is expected to be signed by Governor Brown next week. The law allows OMMP patients to purchase products tax-free at OLCC-licensed stores, expands 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 offers a "stay" on plant limits for OMMP producers in good standing who have applied to the OHA and/or OLCC for licensing.
There are still questions about when and how the "early start" provisions of SB 1511 will be implemented. While the bill has an emergency clause that causes it to take effect upon signing, the Oregon Health Authority will engage in a rule making process before dispensaries are able to offer edibles, extracts and topicals to adult recreational customers. The Oregon Cannabis Association will work closely with the agency to ensure that these products are brought to market safely and swiftly.
The third substantive cannabis-related bill from the Joint Committee is SB 1598, which has been referred to as a “Christmas Tree bill.” Among other provisions, the bill exempts certain small cannabis farms from the requirement to provide a land use compatibility statement (LUCS) when applying for state licensing, affirms that local governments may set reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on medical cannabis businesses, and declares medical cannabis production to be a "farm use" under certain conditions. SB 1598 was signed by Governor Brown today.
Finally, a bill to remove the threat of criminal penalties from banks and credit unions who serve licensed cannabis businesses has also gained legislative approval. HB 4094, sponsored by Rep. Tobias Read, sends an important message to state and federal regulators that licensed cannabis businesses should have the same access to banking services as any other legal business. The bill also directs Oregon's Department of Business and Consumer Services to research state-level solutions to banking access that we can explore while Oregon and other states with legal cannabis businesses await federal relief.
Now that the session is complete, the Oregon Cannabis Association will engage with OHA, OLCC and other agencies with a hand in implementing these bills. There are a number of wrinkles in the three bills that moved out of the Joint Committee, and we will need to work closely with legislative champions, agency contacts, and stakeholders to ensure that these agencies promulgate reasonable, consistent, and workable rules.
-Dmitri Palmateer, Strategies 360
Lobbyist, Oregon Cannabis Association