Medical marijuana patients and growers across Oregon are abandoning the state’s MMJ program, according to reports.

Licensed medical marijuana companies are increasingly up against a combination of legislative red tape and a different kind of market force: the convenience of recreational retail sales.

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The number of patients registered with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) is reportedly half of what it was a year ago. Statewide, registered patients dropped 41%, from 59,137 to 34,892.

The number of registered growers also dropped precipitously. Statewide, the total went from 23,175 to 13,959, a 40% decline.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Industry watchers expect the numbers to continue to decline.
  • Medical marijuana patients who buy at retail dispensaries are able to avoid sales taxes that can reach 20%, although they must pay an annual $200 application fee to be an OMMP-registered patient.
  • The hassle of paying $200 for the annual application fee and the proliferation of dispensaries selling recreational marijuana appear to be factors in the decline.
  • As of this year, MMJ growers that are supplying patients with marijuana must use an online state reporting system that tracks movement of product. Some say the tracking system – Metrc – is difficult to learn and use. The state provides training, but some growers report they don’t like the system and indicate they might drop out because of it.
  • In August, the state slashed daily purchase limits for medical marijuana patients to 1 ounce of cannabis per day, down from the previous limit of 24 ounces per day, in an effort to combat diversion.

– Associated Press