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New Rules

By Matt Walstatter

The evolution of legal cannabis has seen periods of relative calm punctuated by violent, disruptive upheavals. Oregon currently finds itself in the midst of one of those latter periods.

The OLCC has begun accepting applications for recreational licenses. While the rec program will probably not launch until late this year, operators hoping to participate in this new system must familiarize themselves with its rules and complete a fairly arduous application process.

While this is going on, we continue to operate under the aegis of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). We are selling to both medical patients and recreational customers, so we actually have two sets of OHA rules to follow.

The OHA has made major changes to the rules governing the medical system. These changes were originally scheduled to take effect March 1, 2016.

The Oregon Legislature met for a short session during February and early March. The session saw significant legislation that changed many aspects of both the medical and recreational programs in significant ways.

As a result, the OHA delayed implementation of many rules while they regroup. The OLCC will also need to make some adjustments in order to assure that their rules comply with the new legislation.  As you can imagine, this creates an extremely challenging situation for those of us trying to run compliant cannabis businesses here in Oregon.

It would take me several columns to run through all these changes and what they mean on the ground. Today I’m going to start by running through some of the most significant changes to the OHA rules, along with their new effective dates (assuming those dates don’t change three more times).

March 1

The new OHA rules were originally scheduled to take effect on March 1 and many did. New dispensaries and those renewing their licenses now have several more requirements in the application process. The OHA now mandates that you provide a Land Use Compatibility Statement from your local jurisdiction, as well as proof of residency for all owners.  New interim rules on lab testing, packaging and labelling also took effect.

We have also seen some positive changes for patients and growers. Under the OMMP, each patient (or his designated grower), may grow six flowering plants an 18 immature plants. An immature plant was formerly defined as any plant less than 12 inches high and 12 inches wide.

The new definition of an immature plant is any plant that isn’t flowering. That means a grower can have large veg plants ready to start flowering as soon as the flowering plants are harvested. Previously, a grower would need an additional card to cover those large veg plants.

The possession limits for growers have also been increased substantially. The OMMP allows patients to possess up to 24 ounces of cannabis and growers had been subject to this limit as well.  The new rule allows growers to possess all cannabis that they have lawfully produced, up to six pounds per plant for indoor growers and 12 pounds per plant outdoors. That means outdoor growers may possess up to 72 pounds of usable marijuana with just one card.

April 1

The most fundamental and controversial changes begin on April 1. The OMMP allows an individual to grow up to four cards, but up to this point there has been no limit to the number of growers at a particular address. That meant that as long as you had enough growers, you could have unlimited cards at any given address.

The new rules place hard caps on the number of cards allowed at a given address. As of April 1, an address in a residential zone within city limits can have two cards and 12 flowering plants, with the opportunity for existing growers to have an additional two cards and 12 plants grandfathered in.

At all other addresses, the limit is eight cards (48 flowering plants) with the ability to have an additional eight cards (and an additional 48 flowering plants) grandfathered in.

April 1 is the deadline for growsites attempting to use the grandfather rule. It will also see the launch of a new system to register medical processors and new rules governing edibles.

Later Dates

On April 10, dispensaries will begin reporting to the OHA information about what products they have dispensed to patients and customers.  We will also have to furnish the OHA with proof that we have paid our sales tax.

Growers must begin to implement the new tracking system on June 1. This is not a rigorous seed to sale type system like the OLCC uses. Instead growers will be required to self-report data like the number of plants they have grown, the meds they have distributed to patients and dispensaries and who those patients and dispensaries are.

Dispensaries will also face enhanced reporting requirements on June 1 beyond those implemented in April.

Finally, on October 1, we will see significant new rules governing lab testing, packaging, labelling, serving size and product concentration and potency. Some of these rules are available in draft form while others are not even written yet. I’m not sure which is better, considering the absolute certainty that the draft rules will change several times before implementation.

Keep in mind that the legislative session just ended. As I said earlier, the session saw legislation touching on most aspects of the industry, making the status of all rules more volatile and less certain.

Next time I’ll recap the legislation that passed this year and talk about what effects it may have on the rules of both the OHA and the OLCC. In the mean time, best of luck sorting all of this out.

Matt Walstatter

Matt Walstatter

Matt Walstatter and his wife, Meghan, are the owners of Pure Green, a patient owned and operated dispensary in Portland, Oregon. They have jointly owned and operated cultivation centers since 2001. Their dispensary opened in 2013. Matt can be reached at (971) 242-8561 or [email protected]

This Post Has One Comment
  1. I swear it is Oregon’s intention to run their operation at a complete polar opposite from WA… highlighting how heavy handed they have been up north and how loose the program CAN be run. I just hope they don’t F it up for everyone. They should have had all this figured out before anything started being exchanged, they are jeopardizing everyone’s livelihood with their lack of “control”.

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