New panel aims to break medical pot impasse

Sen. Peter Courtney says new Senate committee will work on resolving the issue.

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The House-Senate joint committee tasked with implementing legal marijuana in Oregon declared an impasse Monday. On Wednesday, Senate President Peter Courtney announced a new Senate committee will work on resolving the issue.

From the Portland Tribune:

Lawmakers want to cut off diversion of medical marijuana into the black market, and they spent the last month working on legislation to track and regulate production of medical cannabis. The House-Senate committee is tasked with making any legislative fixes necessary to prepare for the July 1 legalization of recreational pot for adults in Oregon under Measure 91 which voters approved in November.

However, the joint committee has not yet passed any bills and it deadlocked Monday night over a provision to allow city councils and county commissions to ban medical marijuana dispensaries and processors. House Democrats supported an amendment that would automatically refer any ban to voters, while House Republicans and senators from both parties cast their votes for an amendment that would set out a citizen initiative process for voters to challenge the bans.

All of the senators on the new five-person committee are carry-overs from the last panel: Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) and Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg).

The Statesman Journal reports:

Burdick said the amendment stalling the bill has to do with local control of medical marijuana dispensaries and processors. Senators on the joint committee unanimously supported a version in which if a local government decides to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, the proponents of dispensaries would be able to petition to get the decision reversed via the voters. Some House members, however, supported a version in which the issue would go to voters automatically.

Because the Senate has made up its mind on the issue, Burdick said, the special committee would allow the bill to easily move to the Senate floor. In the meantime, the House could explore the issue further, she said: “It really is a good bill,” she said. “The House may need more time to think about it, but I think we just need to keep it moving.”

House Democrats intimated disappointment in response to the decision, the Register-Guard writes.

Rep. Ann Lininger, a Lake Oswego Democrat and the committee’s co-­chairwoman, said she has “concerns about the tactics and the (Senate-backed) policy” on medical marijuana.

“But I’m committed to try to achieve a positive rollout of recreational marijuana,” she said.

Prozanski proposed a “Meals on Wheels for marijuana” solution earlier this week for patients in counties that ban the drug.

Willamette Week reports:

“Don’t think this will keep your citizens from being able to get their medicine,” Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), a longtime supporter of legal weed, warned city and county lobbyists at a May 11 legislative hearing. 

Prozanski wants to deal with pot deserts by authorizing marijuana delivery services to reach patients in any areas off-limits to dispensaries and retail stores: “I will do anything in my power to make sure they keep their medicine,” Prozanski said, “even if it means delivery services into the counties and into the cities.”


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