New pot bill may curb Oregon medical growing operations
By The Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Legislators writing rules for recreational pot in Oregon propose to limit the size of medical marijuana growing operations.
Their intention is to stanch a potential alternative source of marijuana that that could undercut the legal and taxed recreational market to be established next year.
Oregon officials have long said that a large amount of the marijuana ostensibly grown for medical marijuana patients gets diverted to the black market. Growers are allowed to grow up to six plants per patient, often much more than an individual is likely to consume, The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/1Fv5RmY) reports.
One effect of the limits could be to encourage growers in the largely unregulated medical marijuana farms to grow for the recreational trade.
Growers, dispensary operators and patients in the well-established medical marijuana trade have organized against the legislation, which was unveiled late last week.
“It’s going to take medicine away from the sickest and most disenfranchised patients,” said Alex Rogers, who owns a dispensary in Ashland.
But lawmakers have an “over-arching duty” to manage marijuana in a way that won’t run afoul of federal guidelines, said Rep. Ann Lininger of Lake Oswego, a leader of the House-Senate marijuana committee. The committee is writing rules to accompany the law Oregonians approved in a vote to legalize recreational marijuana.
Under the Oregon initiative, possession of small amounts of marijuana will become legal July 1. Retail sales are not expected to start until late 2016, but legislators have a proposal to allow medical dispensaries temporarily to sell to other adults.
The grow limits the committee is considering:
– Existing medical marijuana growers in most areas would be limited to 96 plants, while newer growers would face a 48-plant limit.
– Growers in residential areas within cities would have a 24-plant limit if they were in operation before Jan. 1. Newer growers would be limited to 12 plants.
– Medical marijuana growers would also have to comply with new reporting requirements and could face lower limits if they violate the rules. Existing growers could also face lower limits if they lose patients.