Oregon Lawmakers Drop Proposed Ban on Sugary Medibles

Oregonian dispensaries and medical marijuana patients can rest easy knowing that popular cannabis-infused edibles such as cookies, brownies, and hard candies are, for the most part, safe from a recently-proposed ban.

Last month, Oregon lawmakers presented a new set of medical marijuana rules that would have prohibited the sale of sweet medibles.  The ban was intended to prevent the sugary medicine from being exposed to children, who are sometimes tempted by the conventional appearance of most edibles, but the proposal upset the MMJ community so much that—after plenty of emailed complaints—Oregon officials have decided to rethink their strategy.

In a new set of rules released on Monday, the Oregon Health Authority now seeks only to ban medibles that are made or packaged in such a way that they might be appealing to children. Brightly-colored treats shaped like animals, toys, or other conventional candies will not be allowed. Medicine must also only be sold in child-proof containers without brightly-colored labels or cartoony decorations. “Medicine isn’t candy, and it shouldn’t look like candy,” explained Tom Burns, the Director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority.

Burns admitted that it was the perturbed emails they received that convinced lawmakers to reconsider the ban, after reportedly hundreds of medical marijuana advocates electronically voiced their concerns that the proposal would harm some patients who either cannot smoke or simply require the more lasting effects of edibles.  Oregon dispensaries have claimed that about 15-20% of their sales are generated through edibles, but nonetheless they prematurely pulled the products from store shelves in preparation for the ban.

Overall, marijuana-laced edibles have frequently become targets for lawmakers across the U.S. In 2011, Colorado Republicans tried and failed to ban edible products from dispensaries. In 2013, Michigan lawmakers ruled that edibles infused with cannabis extract were illegal under the state’s medical marijuana laws. And in New Jersey last fall, Gov. Chris Christie had to sign an amendment allowing edible products for use by minors only (the state’s original marijuana regulations didn’t allow the sale of medibles in any context). The proposed Oregon ban would have been the first, however, to specifically target sugary edible products.

Some Oregon business owners are still voicing concern about the most recent rules update. Laura Brannan, who runs Elbe’s Edibles in Portland, told the Assosciated Press that she was having problems finding opaque, child-proof containers that would satisfy the new rules. Having them specially-made would be a “$250,000 problem,” an issue that she says would surely put her business under.

Generally-speaking, Oregon’s dispensaries are still a relatively new development for the state’s medical marijuana program, which, prior to last year, had been purely run through private arrangements between patients and state-registered caregivers. Oregonian marijuana advocates are now hoping that cannabis will be legalized for recreational use this year, with two separate campaigns working to accomplish that goal.




Photo Credit: Pauly McGuire

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