I meant to post this yesterday after I got home from work, but it was Ninjasmoker’s birthday, and after a fantastic dab session, I wasn’t able to get to it! But don’t let my dab celebration fool you, this is big, big news out of Oregon. Below is an article summing up the signing of Oregon HB 3460 by Governor Kitzhaber by National Cannabis Coalition, as well as a video from one of the men that led the successful reform effort – Sam Chapman. Sam Chapman has been a friend of TWB since almost the first page view back when he was the head of the University of Oregon’s SSDP chapter. I knew then that he was going to do big things, and I’m confident that he will continue to do big things in the future. A big thinks to Sam Chapman and Geoff Sugerman for bringing safe access to all Oregonians!
By Anthony Johnson
It has been a long, hard slog establishing licensed and regulated medical cannabis dispensaries in Oregon and while rules and regulations still need to be finalized, patients are one step closer to quality safe access to cannabis as Governor John Kitzhaber signed House Bill 3460 into law today. While Oregon was one of the first states to legalize medical cannabis in 1998, many patients have struggled to acquire medicine as selling cannabis for a profit remained illegal, thus patients unable to garden for themselves have had to rely upon growers willing to charitably donate their labor (or turn to the underground market). Under HB 3460, growers and medical cannabis dispensaries are now able to get reimbursed for all of the normal costs of doing business, instead of merely just supplies and utilities.
Two previous attempts to legalize licensed and regulated dispensaries failed at the ballot box in both 2004 and 2010 (I served as co-chief petitioner of the 2010 effort). After years of activists taking the lead on the issue, it was great to see the Oregon Legislature lead the way, with the help of advocates and lobbyists, of course. House Bill 3460 is very similar to the 2010 effort as it establishes the Oregon Health Authority as the regulating agency in charge of both promulgating rules and regulatory enforcement, without curtailing the ability of patients to maintain their own medical cannabis garden.
In a demonstration of how far cannabis law reform has come politically in Oregon (as well as across the country) Governor Kitzhaber actually signed a measure into law in 1997 that would have re-criminalized an ounce or less of cannabis, but voters overturned that measure after cannabis law reform advocates gathered enough signatures to place the referendum on the ballot. Kitzhaber also opposed Measure 74, the attempt to legalize medical cannabis dispensaries in 2010. Now, Governor Kitzhaber, serving his third term as Oregon governor, has just signed his fourth positive cannabis law reform bill passed by the legislature in its most recent session.
From The Oregonian:
The law, which moves Oregon’s booming medical marijuana industry into the mainstream, creates a registry of businesses that sell the medical marijuana.
Patients have long sought retail access to cannabis, arguing the state’s rules — grow your own marijuana or have someone do it for you -€” are unrealistic.
The law comes a year after an investigation by The Oregonian showed that scant state regulation of medical marijuana allowed widespread diversion to the black market. Oregon joins a dozen other states that allow medical marijuana dispensaries or retail outlets.
A press release from Oregonians for Medical Rights, who worked tirelessly to pass House Bill 3460 this session:
For more information contact:
Governor Signs Bill Authorizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Governor John Kitzhaber today signed House Bill 3460 to license and
regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Along with signing the bill, the
Governor issues a signing letter to guide the Oregon Health Authority
during the rulemaking process over the next nine months.
“We are pleased to get both the signature and the direction from Governor
Kitzhaber. Now it is up to those people who are part of the medical
marijuana program that we draft these rules right and implement them
responsibly to provide both safe access to patients and be good neighbors
in our communities,” said Geoff Sugerman, one of the leading proponents of
Currently, there are somewhere close to 200 dispensaries operating in
Oregon today without licensure or regulation. HB 3460 requires those
facilities to register with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and meet a
series of regulations to ensure compliance with the law.
Those regulations include testing of medicine, restrictions on location and
tracking all medical marijuana coming in and out of facilities to ensure
only valid patients are receiving legally grown medical marijuana.
“This is the next step in ensuring a system that provides safe access to as
many patients as possible while making sure these facilities are holding
themselves to a high standard of conduct,” said Sam Chapman, a lobbyist for
Oregonians for Medical Rights who helped draft the bill. “Now we need to
make sure those who are operating facilities understand their
responsibilities to their patients and their communities.”
State Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) and State Senator Floyd Prozanski
(D-Lane County) were chief sponsors of the bill.
Governor Kitzhaber, in his signing statement, commented:
There are two main goals we wish to achieve: first, we want to ensure the overall safety of our communities through appropriate rules to license and regulate dispensaries and second, we want to allow the patients safe access to marijuana if they are eligible for treatment under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
Establishing licensed and regulated dispensaries is a great step forward for the cannabis law in Oregon. While the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) has worked great for patients with their own garden, and many around the Portland area, where dispensaries have flourished, too many patients have gone without medicine and providers in more conservative areas have suffered through law enforcement raids. We here at NCC will be helping patient advocates lobby the rule making committee to ensure that patients are allowed safe access across the state in a way that creates jobs, generates enough revenue to maintain the system and allows law enforcement to concentrate resources on serious and violent crime.
After Oregon voters realize that regulated cannabis commerce can occur in a responsible matter across the state, we look forward to legalizing cannabis for all adults as this is a model that worked successful in Colorado. Onward and upward until we are all free my friends!