Oregon mulls putting medical, rec cannabis under one regulator

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Oregon lawmakers are considering putting the state’s medical and adult-use marijuana programs under the oversight of one regulatory agency.

The move would put Oregon in the same company as its neighbor to the north, Washington state.

According to the Blue Mountain Eagle, the co-chairwomen of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation have offered bills that would transfer regulation of MMJ to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission – which currently oversees recreational sales – from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Another proposal would establish a separate agency tasked with cannabis regulation.

Oregon’s marijuana program had a tough year in 2016. For one, problems with lab testing nearly brought the state’s industry to its knees.

Oregon marijuana industry experts are eager to see the OHA taken off overseeing the MMJ program and the duties given to “somebody who does want it,” Tom Burns, a marijuana policy consultant, told the Blue Mountain Eagle. He said the OHA has been a reluctant regulator.

In Washington state’s case, the rec market has nearly swallowed the medical market. Registered card holder numbers are way down.

One key difference between Oregon and Washington: In Oregon, MMJ patients don’t pay taxes on medical cannabis. Washington state still charges an excise tax of 37% for both medical and rec, while MMJ patients don’t pay a sales tax.