By Steve Elliott
Marijuana policy reform is advancing on multiple fronts in Oregon, with both medicinal cannabis and general legalization measures gaining traction in an increasingly friendly Legislature.
"We are seeing the best legislative session for drug policy reform -- certainly since the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act passed in 1998, and perhaps ever -- this go-round," Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News.
In the last week, the Oregon Senate:
• Passed SB 281 on a 19-11 vote. This bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of debilitating medical conditions which qualify patients for the protections of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA).
• Passed SB 40, 24-6. This bill realigns the felony level designations of Manufacturing and Possession to be consistent with the rescheduling in Oregon of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II; and creates misdemeanor marijuana possession (more than one ounce, less than four ounces) and misdemeanor hashish possession (less than 1/4 ounce).
By Steve Elliott
Measure 80, which would have legalized and taxed marijuana in Oregon, was defeated at the ballot box last November. But New Approach Oregon, a coalition of cannabis advocates, has now approached the Legislature and, in effect, asked for help in achieving the same goal.
The group has momentum and public opinion on its side, according to The Oregonian Editorial Board. While the advocates hope for a ballot initiative in 2014, their current vehicle is House Bill 3371, which got a hearing last week before the House Judiciary Committee.
It was sent from there to the House Revenue Committee, "where it'll have the substantial policy debate," according to Judiciary Chair Jeff Barker (D-Aloha). There's little hope that HB 3371 will pass, though, according to Barker, reports Yuxing Zheng of The Oregonian.
Since HB 3371 would tax marijuana as well as legalizing it, a three-fifths majority would be required in each chamber -- but securing even a simple majority would be challenging, since most lawmakers are skittish about pot legalization.
By Steve Elliott
Oregon lawmakers are looking at a plan to legalize and tax marijuana under House Bill 3371, scheduled for an April 2 public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill would legalize the production, processing and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products, reports Yuxing Zheng of The Oregonian. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to six mature marijuana plants and 24 ounces of dried cannabis, the same amounts currently allowed for patients under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of licensing marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers under HB 3371. Meanwhile, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee the taxation of cannabis.
Marijuana producers would be taxed $35 per ounce under the bill. That money would go to a "Cannabis Tax Account," 40 percent of which would go to state schools, with 20 percent each going to Oregon State Police, the general fund, and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs.
If passed, HB 3371 would take effect on July 1, 2014.