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Can More Regulations For Medical Marijuana Ever Be A Good Thing?

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medical cannabis regulationsSome Look At More Regulations As A Burden, Some Look At It As Needed Clarification

When I hear about more regulations for medical marijuana, I instantly get defensive. It’s natural to look at medical marijuana regulations with scrutiny because they are often used in a way that drastically hinders safe access. Raising fees is hard on people that can barely afford their medical cannabis in these hard economic times. Creating licensing requirements puts a burden on growers that is not required for people that grow other harmless plants.

The town of Irrigon, Oregon recently passed an ordinance that has the following requirements:

10-7-1: REGULATIONS:

A. Marijuana may be grown and used pursuant to the provisions of the Oregon medical marijuana act, Oregon Revised Statutes 475.300 et seq., within the corporate limits of the city of Irrigon according to the following regulations:

1. Marijuana may be grown only after obtaining a zoning permit from the city of Irrigon for the growing of marijuana.

2. The site must be registered with the state of Oregon and the registration card for the person for whom the marijuana is being grown be prominently displayed at the grow site.

3. Marijuana may only be grown indoors or in a greenhouse.

4. The grow site must conform to current electrical codes and must be inspected for conformance to the code prior to the issuance of a permit.

5. Growing and/or distributing of marijuana for more than one registered card holder may only be done from a commercial zone.

6. Growing of marijuana within one thousand feet (1,000′) of a school is prohibited.

7. The zoning permit must be renewed on an annual basis.

8. Conviction of a violation of any provision of this chapter may be cause for revocation of the zoning permit. (Ord. 209-11, 10-18-2011)

10-7-2: VIOLATION; PENALTY:

Every person violating any provision of this chapter shall be assessed a civil infraction in an amount not to exceed four hundred fifty dollars ($450.00). For each violation of this chapter which is of a continuing nature, a separate infraction will be deemed to occur on each calendar day the infraction continues to exist. (Ord. 209-11, 10-18-2011)

The town of Irrigon is not the first municipality in Oregon to pursue additional regulations above and beyond what the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program rules and laws require. The town of Carlton, Oregon was trying to pass regulations until there was push back from the Oregon mmj community. The ordinance has since been tabled until further review and input can be gathered. The town of Rogue River, Oregon is trying to pass an ordinance to limit medical marijuana dispensaries. There are countless more than I’m sure will be popping up and/or are in the works right now.

Oregon is obviously not the only state dealing with increased regulations at the local level. Every medical marijuana state either has local regulations in the works, or in the case of California and Colorado, there are multiple layers of regulations to weave through. There is a growing group within the medical marijuana community that are stating that some of these regulations are actually a good thing. Every state level program or organic legislation leaves a lot of grey areas and holes that lead to confusion. Law enforcement often takes advantage of these grey areas, which wouldn’t happen if there were regulations in place.

Of course the con side of that I alluded to earlier. It’s expensive enough in Oregon to have to pay for doctor visits and OMMP fees, to add more fees for registering a grow site hurts the patients that need the cost benefits of growing their own marijuana the most. Making rules that you can’t grow outdoors results in added costs to the grower which has to pay for indoor lighting and/or a greenhouse. Not to mention the limitations that are placed on strains that do better outdoors, and/or patient preferences for outdoor versus indoor medicine.

A lot of the proposed sections of the ordinance will no doubt get thrown out because of state pre-emption. For instance, stating that you can only distribute to one person unless it’s a commercial zone is a catch-22. State law forbids commercial cannabis businesses, which directly conflicts with the ordinance. One person can grow for up to four people (including themselves if that’s the case) in Oregon, and no city can infringe on that. However, just because parts get thrown out doesn’t mean that they are not significant, as they can become parts of future legislation at the state level. It’s no secret that politicians rarely come up with their own ideas; they usually just steal them from somewhere else and try to pass it off as their own. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that start happening with future bills at the Capital.

What do TWB readers think? Would you be willing to trade some regulations if it meant clarity in the law? If so, what would the threshold be? Or do you think that any regulations are bad regulations? If so, why? And also if so, are you willing to continue dealing with confusion in order to keep layers of bureaucracy out of the mmj programs?

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