Oregon legislators may take aim at medical cannabis regulator

The Oregon regulatory agency whose testing procedures have been blamed for damaging the state’s medical cannabis industry is being targeted by state lawmakers.

Legislation proposed for the 2017 session would wrest some or all control of medical marijuana from the Oregon Health Authority, the Portland Business Journal reported.

When the state legislature convenes Feb. 1, it is likely to hear proposals that would:

  • Essentially disband the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and create an Oregon Cannabis Commission to oversee the state’s medical cannabis industry.
  • Forbid the OHA from registering medical cannabis dispensaries as well as cultivation and processing sites.
  • Rename the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversee the state’s adult-use marijuana program, to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. The initiative also would add members of the retail cannabis industry to the commission.

The OHA came under fire in 2016 for its strict cannabis testing standards and dearth of labs, which led to barren shelves, declining revenue, potential layoffs and the likelihood of businesses closing. There also are concerns the industry’s problems might drive residents away from legal outlets to the black market.

The OHA has defended its testing policies, saying they are meant to detect unapproved pesticides that could jeopardize public safety.

Many Oregon MMJ dispensaries have become adult-use only outlets, and since Oct. 1 more than 100 dispensaries have abandoned registrations or withdrawn applications, according to the Portland Business Journal. The newspaper also reported that dispensaries now number 307 after having peaked at 425, and as of Friday the state had 174 recreational stores.

4 comments on “Oregon legislators may take aim at medical cannabis regulator
  1. Morgan Glenn on

    Thank God. A few opportunistic labs gamed the OHA and created overly strict testing standards to make sure other labs would be priced out of competing. They knew what they were doing and designed it long ago according to people that worked with them. They never gave a crap about any of us and didn’t care about the financial impact. It was more important for them to have exclusive profits while thousands of businesses suffered or folded to appease that greed. Of course lawmakers are pissed. They wanted to set an example of a tightly regulated, safe cannabis industry and somehow that was used to trick them into creating a situation where labs could fleece the industry which led to a lack of product on shelves due to 8 week delays and more importantly gigantic price hikes which sent half the public and a third of producers back to the Black Market. Well over 10 million in taxes was also lost. The legislature was recessed for 8 months and they knew this so all action fell on the regulatory agencies instead of the lawmakers. The trade group inwas a part of was convinced to abandon being a non-profit and change to a for-profit, fee generating model that would not and could not hire its lobbyist again. This was in part due to influence from the one of those labs. It’s frankly offensive that these people ruined an entire industry that was highly regulated and doing great by people like us who have sacrificed our energy and freedom for decades cultivating this healing plant while they talk a bunch of phony game pretending to be one of us while pickpocketing us behind our backs. I’ve never in my life seem so many angry people looking for heads to roll. There was a way to not smear our industry with scare tactics anout pesticides and still protect everyone as we believe in organic growing and always have here in Oregon. There was a way to test for everything without having absurd tolerances or margins of error that other labs could afford the equipment for. Lying to regulatory agencies about being able to handle capacity was also a crude mistake. Now look. It’s coming back to bite them. Maybe the journalist from The Oregonian who fed this smear campaign with scare tactics could write an honest article about the situation or maybe the new cannabis journalist should since they don’t have pre-existing ties to the businesses that were advising the regularly agencies in crafting these rules.

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  2. Jordan Tishler on

    Great. Once again the government sides with money and profits over patient safety. Testing should be strict and mandatory. The department of health is the only organization that should oversee medical care. If you can’t afford to test your products for safety you should get out of the business. Patients first!

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  3. Eric on

    Salem, we are watching you. People have to come first, remember when the DEA was spraying Mexican Marijuana with Paraquat? Spraying an herbicide on a crop intended for human consumption was as bad as the Federal government adding methanol into grain alcholhol, all of this was stop consumption. Nice people they aren’t.

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