[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]T[/dropcap]he Oregon legislature closed its 2018 session at the beginning of March, and as a result there are big changes coming for Oregon’s cannabis and hemp businesses after Gov. Kate Brown signed the new bills into law.
Out of a total of four cannabis-related bills, one already failed proposal would have allowed for business owners with licenses to sell cannabis to host cannabis smoking events. However the three other cannabis measures have been signed by Gov. Brown and are either now effective or will go into effect this summer.
Senate Bill 1544 includes changes to both medical and recreational industry rules. For medical cannabis, those who are licensed to grow cannabis for registered patients will now be allowed to provide actual immature cannabis plants to patients instead of just harvested flower. These same growers would also be exempted from the extremely specific packaging and labeling requirements that are normally placed on producers of cannabis meant for the retail market.
Medical growers with a small harvest will also be exempt from tracking and reporting requirements. Once SB-1544 takes effect, medical growers would be limited to 12 immature plants taller than 24 inches. The bill also has stipulations that require the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to set a limit on how many plants under 24 inches tall would be allowed. The makers and sellers of industrial hemp products will also be affected by SB-1544, as the new rules would now require them to clearly label whether products are made from cannabis or hemp plants. The bill was signed by Gov. Kate Brown on April 10 and goes into effect June 2.
Senate Bill 1555 has impacts on the distribution of tax revenue in Oregon. It states that until July of 2019, the Oregon Department of Revenue can distribute a special portion of the state’s cannabis tax revenue to community mental health and mental health funding throughout Oregon. It was signed by Gov. Kate Brown April 3 and took effect the same day.
Lastly, House Bill 4089 was initiated by the Oregon Hemp Farmer’s Association. It requires the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to track hemp and hemp products as a commodity just like it currently does with all cannabis products sold in Oregon. Individuals will not be able to process and store industrial hemp products anymore under HB-4089. The bill also states that hemp containing more than 0.3 percent THC cannot be sold by anyone other than a retailer licensed to sell cannabis. Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill on April 13, and it went into effect on April 13.
The OLCC now has more control over Oregon’s hemp industry in general with the passing of HB-4089, and will begin enforcing cannabis industry rules that are also required of growers and processors of hemp. Ron Cameron is a native Oregonian and has grown hemp for over a decade in Prineville, who spoke with CULTURE about the new bill. “Right now Oregon is like the wild west when it comes to hemp,” he said. “The passing of this new bill is really going to legitimize our industry, it will be run a lot like the cannabis industry. Most hemp growers welcome the new regulations, because now things will be clear, and we will know how to keep our businesses safe.”
The OLCC came up with new rules surrounding industrial hemp last year, so the passing of this new bill will give the organization more support in enforcing these new rules. With so many recent changes to Oregon’s hemp program, and many more over the last two years, hemp is becoming nearly as regulated as Oregon’s recreational cannabis industry.
“The passing of this new bill is really going to legitimize our industry, it will be run a lot like the cannabis industry.”
All three new bills refine already existing legislation to regulate and perfect Oregon’s hemp and cannabis industries. Each new legislative session in Oregon brings new requirements to the OHA and the OLCC and how they work together to regulate cannabis. With each change, Oregon is leading the way for other states in developing a successful and safe cannabis