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Changes are Coming to Oregon’s Cannabis Industry


The state of Oregon has had legal medical cannabis for ten years now, and recreational marijuana has been legalized for almost three, but there are still big changes to come for the growing industries. Multiple bills have been filed since the start of the year pertaining to the use of cannabis or the industries themselves, all aimed at improving on the current system that has finally settled into place (at least, sort of settled).

We’ve already seen a bill hoping to protect employees from losing their jobs over cannabis use, as well as a dispensaries getting approval to deliver to residential areas. Now, even though the Oregon Health Authority has only just turned over the new commercial cannabis industry to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission – they are now talking about consolidating the medicinal and recreational markets to simplify the regulation of cannabis throughout the state.

Both people from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Oregon Health Authority, as well as a handful of lawmakers, have come up with a plan on how the state might go about this challenge. The proposed plan would give oversight of all dispensaries to the OLCC, while leaving patient ID cards in the hands of the Oregon Health Authority.

If they were to make this transition, existing recreational cannabis businesses would be able to expand their allowed growing space by 10%, if that product went to medical marijuana patients. Dispensaries licensed by the OHA could skip licensing fees if they chose to give 75% of their product away to patients for free.

“I think Oregonians like to take care of each other as best they can and I think system we have proposed today will allow them to do that,” said Rob Patridge, chairman of the liquor control commission.

In the end it will be up to lawmakers to decide whether or not this bill should pass, creating a new regulatory system. If lawmakers feel this would be the simplest and best way to move forward, then it will take at least two years for the consolidation to be complete. With incentives like licensing waivers for giving patients free medicine, it really seems like it could be a big benefit to pass this plan.

A second bill that was just introduced would allow for cannabis to be smoked at temporary public events (likely such as fairs), as well as allowing for cannabis lounges (or clubs) where people could gather to smoke, vape or eat their cannabis in a social setting. This bill is definitely one that many people are hoping to see pass.

“Social norms around smoking have changed significantly,” Hoffman said. “By providing an exemption for marijuana at special events, we undermine all of the efforts that we’ve undertaken.”

Cannabis clubs are something that many people expected to see after legalization finally happened – but so far states have been shy about setting permanent regulations on such an establishment. Hopefully this bill goes through, although opponents say that it is undermining the Indoor Clean Air Act. Those in favor of the bill argue that it is unfair to exclude marijuana users from certain events and social settings.