Governor Kate Brown recently signed two pieces of legislature that make changes to Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). OMMP cardholders can rest at ease knowing that the state isn’t going to let the new recreational cannabis market squash the medical program in Oregon. The recreational and medical markets can finally start working in conjunction with each other, instead of working against each other and making medical cardholders feel like they are losing all their rights and privileges.
The first was House Bill 4014, which allows cannabis producers, processors and retailers to start business without first having to abide by the two-year residency requirement. This means weed can be produced and processed faster, without having to wait two years It will also allow medical businesses to deduct business expenses from their state taxes; like any other business! The new bill will also reduce medical card fees for qualifying veterans from $200 to $20, a great relief to all the veteran medical cardholders suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). HB-4014 will even relax the rules for people who are on probation or waiting to go to trial. The new rules will guarantee that even medical cardholders who have had trouble with the state will still be able to access and use their medication.
The second bill Oregon’s governor signed was Senate Bill 1598, which will prove to be a great help to small medical businesses. This bill makes it easier for small medical businesses to get licensed; medical growing operations will no longer have to jump through hoops like filling out a bunch of extra paperwork just to get a license. This easier process will allow them to be a part of the regulated recreational market as well. The new licensing system offers lower fees and fewer requirements in general, and will put up fewer road blocks to those looking to start a medical business. This bill will also be a great asset to those farming medical cannabis crops on a larger scale. Large farm-scale grow sites that are growing for medical patients or research will for the first time be recognized as farm crop producers. This is already the case for recreational growers, so it makes sense, and protects legitimate medical cannabis crops and their farmers from unjustified lawsuits.
There will also be new laws set in place under SB-1598 to protect in home medical cannabis grow sites from inspection by the Oregon Health Authority. Letting personal medical growers have the security of knowing they won’t lose everything in an instant. The bill will also allow non-profit medical dispensaries to provide medicine to patients for very little money, and accept excess cannabis from growers to do so. Health authorities will also now be required to look at the accessibility of medical cannabis in areas that might lack many local businesses, and ensure that patients across Oregon can access medical cannabis.
Several more bills are awaiting Brown’s signature that will be very important to Oregon’s cannabis industry. One would allow edibles and concentrates to be sold recreationally, which might be implemented much earlier than state lawmakers originally planned. Another upcoming bill will protect banks from criminal liability when working with legal cannabis businesses; something that should have happened a long time ago. There are good things happening in the Oregon Legislature, and for once lawmakers are protecting the use of cannabis in Oregon, and the rights of those in the cannabis industry.