Legislating Legal Cannabis
In a strong bipartisan vote yesterday, the House passed a bill that right-sizes penalties for marijuana offenses, makes it easier for medical patients to access medicine, and helps small businesses sell to the legal adult-use market. House Bill 4014 is the first of three bills drafted this session to further fine-tune the regulatory framework developed in 2015 to establish Oregon’s recreational cannabis market. Here is a summary of some of the key provisions in the bill:
1. Youth Cannabis-use Prevention Program: Creates a pilot program to prevent youth from using cannabis.
2. Residency Requirements: Brings legal cannabis businesses in line with other legal businesses by removing restrictions on the residency of individuals that may own or invest in legal cannabis businesses in Oregon. This will help enable businesses to meet business needs despite lack of access to banking services.
3. Small Businesses: Encourages the OLCC to help small producers have a meaningful role in the OLCC-regulated sector by adopting licensure requirements that better fit the needs of small farms.
4. Criminal Justice Issues: Reduces some criminal penalties related to a range of marijuana offenses and directs state to treat medical cannabis use like use of prescription drugs when setting conditions for pre-trial release, diversion, parole, and probation. The bill returns penalties to pre-HB 3400 level for conduct that involves unlicensed use of highly explosive materials or significant production within 1000-feet of a school. The bill expressly prohibits smoking cannabis while driving.
5. Veterans’ Access to Medicine: Allows veterans who have a qualifying medical condition to access medical marijuana cards at the same price as may low-income individuals, $20.
6. Research: Supports cannabis research and R&D by ensuring researchers have pathways to access the product and seeds they need to conduct research.
7. Tribes: Supports Governor’s authority to enter into agreements with Tribes in Oregon to align our respective activities in the legal cannabis sector.