Debate Over New MMJ Business Restrictions in Oregon

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Just a week after one legislative committee fought to a standstill over Oregon’s medical cannabis rules, a state Senate committee voted unanimously for new restrictions, including a limit on the number of plants cultivators can have at a given time, implementing a seed to sale tracking system, further inspection regulations and an in-state residency requirement for businesses.

The move still needs approval from the full state Senate and House, and there may well be another battle over the proposal, since last week policymakers deadlocked over similar new regulations.

Backers say the new rules are necessary to prevent federal regulators from intervening when the state tries to move ahead with its upcoming recreational marijuana industry.

One key difference between several House members and Senators when it comes to regulating the state’s MMJ industry is whether or not to allow localities to ban medical cannabis businesses; those in the upper chamber favor giving local governments such flexibility, while a trio of House members on last week’s panel contended that patients need to have access to medicine without letting politicians intervene.

Local bans are a critical factor in this state, as they are in so many other states, because if allowed the majority of Oregon could close its doors to both MMJ and recreational retail. In 2014, 72% of Oregon counties enacted temporary bans to stop dispensaries from opening.