POST CATEGORY: Opinion

The Future of The OMMP & The OLCC

October 05, 2017 | NORTHWEST LEAF

One system to rule them all. By Matthew Meyers.

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With the passage of SB 1057 and HB 2198, we are witnessing massive changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). This reflects the pressure that our state government is under from the feds to ensure that legal Cannabis isn’t crossing state boundaries or violating federal drug policy.

HB 2198 creates a Cannabis commission to formulate final decisions about the future of the market during this transition for the OMMP. This newly formed commission must submit a report “regarding the future of the OMMP and its governance framework” by Dec. 15.

I reached out to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to elaborate on this commission but never received a response. I encourage you to reach out and ask them to elaborate as well!

Patients deserve to know what will happen with their supply of medicine.  

This bill also allows OMMP producers with more than 12 plants to transfer excess product up to 20 pounds per year to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) market, given that “the producer is registered with the OHA when the measure goes into effect.”

This bill prohibits OHA or OLCC from requiring security systems on medical grows, although OMMP producers will have to register some additional information with the state. This means the cost of starting a medical grow will be substantially less than an OLCC licensed operation.

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SB 1057 is aimed at curbing the flow of product leaving the state from legal producers. There has been increased attention to Oregon’s Cannabis program as the Oregon State Police reported (at the request and funding of the Justice Department) that large amounts of product are flowing out of the state, via legal production facilities.

Kate Brown responded to the report, highlighting that Oregon State Police were paid by the feds to produce the kind of report they wanted to see. Brown cited that statistics had been misrepresented by the bias of the Oregon State Police in this situation. This pressure is why state legislators have taken action to pass these two bills.  

SB 1057 allows OLCC marijuana licensees to be designated  as exclusively medical licensees by the OLCC, as well as increasing the OLCC commissioners to seven (up from five) and allows producers an additional 10 percent of existing canopy space they may use to grow for the OMMP system.

Seventy five percent of the product produced under this increased canopy will be donated to patients and 25 percent can be sold on the OLCC market.

Medical producers and processors have until December to decide if they will stay in the OMMP and adapt to the new tracking requirements, switch to an OLCC license or forfeit their license all together.

If you grow 12 plants or less for yourself, you won’t be affected by the bill. We are seeing an all-time low in OMMP dispensary renewals, so I believe we will see a hybrid production with a vast majority of the sales (both medical and recreational) happening through OLCC licensed dispensaries.

The OHA says it’s time to make the choice between legal and illegal Cannabis markets. This comes as the House of Representatives ramps up pressure on states with legal Cannabis by voting an amendment that would prevent the Justice Department from using federal resources to interfere with state legal medical Cannabis. This means it cannot be included in the 2018 budget.

A temporary solution seems to be manifesting but it won’t be the end of the federal pressure until we see a change in the drug policy.

Take the time now to learn who represents you and how they voted. An April poll by Quinnipiac University found that 73 percent of Americans polled “oppose…government enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

Remember that a lot of these members of Congress are up for reelection in 2018 and we need to remind them that we want more effective and realistic drug policies. They need to pick which side of history they want to be on.

It’s clear to me that the only way we will make this system work to its full potential will be to create change at a federal level. There is no way the market can be fully efficient if there is paranoia and red tape at every turn.

We need more than just change in federal drug policy. Our nation will need to rapidly progress if we want to continue to be a representative of the modern world.

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