This post was originally made January 30, 2015.
A little known fact about MRM attorneys Amber Rush and myself is that we are sitting for the February 2015 bar exam in Oregon to expand the firm's cannabis regulations practice. The decision was made shortly after the passage of measure 91 in Oregon, which legalizes home grown and commercial production and sale of adult use cannabis and industrial hemp. Accordingly, we attended the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's (OLCC) general public meeting held today, 1/30/14. Oregon's measure 91 operates very similarly to both Colorado's amendment 64 and Washington's I-502 in that it tasks creation of the regulations to a state agency. In measure 91's case, that is the OLCC. At this time the OLCC is taking general comments from leaders in and those impacted by the industry. Today's meeting was held in furtherance of the commission's series of town-hall style sessions that are taking place on their ongoing listening tour. Dates and locations of that tour can be found here.
Comments from the speakers were surprisingly uniform. Speakers presented points from many different groups including the League of Oregon Cities, the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, Oregon District Attorneys Association, the Oregon Growers PAC, owners of cannabis businesses, and various others. Almost everyone was in agreement that strong administrative penalties for noncompliance is favorable to the existing criminal laws rearing their head if an otherwise legal market participant falls out of compliance with state law. Such a system is favored by law enforcement because it cuts a large portion of enforcement activity out of already strained budgets. Cannabis market participants would also obviously prefer an administrative fine to a criminal charge. The largest point of contention was how the OLCC will handle the existing medical marijuana framework, which is largely unregulated, in a future where adult use or recreational cannabis exists. Anthony Johnson, a Sponsor of measure 91 argued that medical marijuana is medicine to its patients and easy access to marijuana by patients should be the top priority. Others argued that the practicalities of removing cannabis from the black and grey market is the top priority and that fusing medical marijuana sales with adult use sales is the best approach. For a discussion on how Washington has proposed to handle its medical marijuana regime in conjunction with its new recreational market, see Amber Rush's recent blog post.
Eli Marchbanks, Attorney at Navigate Law Group.
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.