[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]O[/dropcap]regon has been under pressure from the federal government to do more to help quash the black market sale of cannabis, especially out-of-state sales. More cannabis is being produced than consumed in the state, and it’s led to a number of regulatory issues. As a result, state analysts have been vigilant in identifying potential schemes to transport legal Oregon cannabis elsewhere.
It’s this vigilance that led state analysts to discover a number of suspicious transactions in August. The transactions revealed that a small number of medical cannabis patients bought large quantities of cannabis flower, going over the legal limit.
Officials from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) suspected that these transactions indicates that medical patients were buying large quantities of cannabis to transport out-of-state, where cannabis is still illegal or much more expensive. As a result, on Aug. 23 the OLCC issued a temporary rule reducing the daily limit of cannabis that medical patients are allowed to buy, from one-and-a-half pounds to one ounce.
In September, members of Oregon’s advisory committee, which is comprised of patient advocates, medical professionals and patients themselves, held a committee meeting requesting that the former limit to be restored. Jesse Sweet, a lawyer who contributed to the state’s cannabis regulations, expressed his disbelief that a single patient could require that much cannabis at one time. Advocates countered that no illegal activity had actually been uncovered, and all of the patients in Oregon shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a select few.
“It is rare that patients should need to purchase a pound-and-a-half of flower every day. However, they may need to purchase more than an ounce at a time in order to make their medicine.”
So why would one patient need large quantities of cannabis? Emma Chasen, patient advocate and co-founder of Eminent Consulting, told CULTURE her thoughts on the necessity for medical patients to have access to large quantities of cannabis.
“In an industry that is only getting more expensive for Oregon cannabis patients, the ability to buy in bulk offers a cheaper option to obtain medicine. Therefore, to mitigate this issue, retailers should offer discounts or special medical pricing to patients so that they can obtain medicine at lower costs,” Chasen explained. “It is rare that patients should need to purchase a pound-and-a-half of flower every day. However, they may need to purchase more than an ounce at a time in order to make their medicine. The regulatory bodies should work with medical patients to allow a purchasing limit that makes sense—not as much as over a pound but not as little as an ounce either. And whatever limit is decided should be offered at a lower cost for the patients through all retailers.”
The reduced limit, though temporary, remains in place. A more permanent solution is currently being sought by Oregon regulators. While some regulators may be skeptical about the patients’ need to access large quantities of cannabis, the voices of patients, advocates and medical professionals are being heard. OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks promised the audience at the conclusion of the September meeting, “We are listening.”