Senate votes to tamp down on medical marijuana

The measure strengthens regulation of an industry that many believe is operating without due scrutiny.

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A measure that strengthens regulation of an industry that many believe is operating without due scrutiny passed in the Oregon Senate Wednesday.

The bill limits the amount medical marijuana growing operations can produce while also allowing for closer monitoring of the crop’s supply chain.

From the Portland Tribune:

Senate Bill 964 would also set up a licensing system for all medical pot businesses and allow for state inspections. With only a month left before lawmakers hope to adjourn, legislators and some in the marijuana industry said they hope Oregon’s showdown over medical pot regulations does not turn into a replay of what happened in Colorado and Washington. Although voters approved legalization of cannabis in both states in 2012, the states struggled with the question of how to handle medical marijuana and lawmakers only recently passed bills to address some of the issues Oregon is currently considering.

“I think there’s a wide recognition that if we don’t get our hands around the medical market — certainly Colorado and Washington discovered this — that if we can’t get our hands around the medical market, it will undermine the recreational market,” state Sen. Ginny Burdick said.

The bill passed the Senate 29-1 but will face more scrutiny in the House.

The Associated Press reports:

In the House, the measure will go to the Ways and Means Committee, led by co-chair Peter Buckley, an Ashland Democrat who has been among the most vocal critics of the local opt-out in the Senate bill. Still, Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, does not want to see the bill die.

“The speaker believes regulations to the medical marijuana program are necessary in order for the successful implementation of Measure 91, and she supports the ongoing effort to address both issues this session,” said Lindsey O’Brien, a spokeswoman for Kotek. Measure 91 was last year’s ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana.

Meanwhile, the agency in charge of implementing the new legal recreational marijuana law aims to streamline the pot-buying experience in Oregon.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission officials proposed letting medical growers deal freely with recreational outposts in exchange for added regulation, writes.

Rob Patridge, chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told legislators Wednesday that the state could run afoul of federal officials if they try to start sales before a strict “seed to sale” tracking system is in place.  That will take until the last half of 2016, he said. Several members of the House-Senate committee charged with implementing the marijuana legalization initiative approved by voters said they still want to start sales not long after possession becomes legal on July 1.

Even without strict controls in place, Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego and a co-chair of the committee, said it is still better to start bringing marijuana into the legal market even if it’s not clear it was all grown legally.  Lininger and other legislators say they’re now looking seriously at whether they could start sales on Oct. 1. In any case, marijuana advocates and people in the industry cheered the idea of providing one-stop shopping for both medical and recreational users. 

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