Oregon Legislature Faces Host of New Marijuana-Related Proposals

In November, Oregon voters passed Measure 91 to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. Now, the new state legislature — legislators were sworn into office on Monday — has a hefty project to tackle.

At least 16 marijuana-related bills were introduced to the Oregon state legislature on Monday, and more are expected. They cover a wide variety of issues in the political spheres of both recreational and medical marijuana, reports the Oregonian.

Faced with the task of implementing Measure 91 — which legalizes the home possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis and calls for a regulated market to be in place by 2016 for the adult distribution of the drug for recreational purposes — lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are now scrambling to have a say in the development process.

Clearly, some bills here are meant to inhibit marijuana’s progress toward mainstream acceptance. There are some, however, which aim to foster the industry’s growth and improve society’s understanding of cannabis and all the social, economic, and political implications it carries.

Democratic Sen. Chris Edwards is sponsoring two proposals, Senate Bills 479 and 480, which would designate further research into the benefits of medical marijuana and spark an investigation into how the medical industry can best serve its patients.

Rep. Peter Buckley, a Democrat from Ashland, has a hemp-focused approach: he introduced a measure that would remove the requirement for industrial hemp farmers to get a permit from the state government. Oregon is one of several U.S. states that have legalized industrial hemp, which was recently recognized as a legitimate industry of the future by the federal government.

“You can’t see the passage of something major like that and not think that you need to figure out how to manage it,” said Rep. Julie Parrish, a Republican from West Linn. Parrish proposed two bills herself, both of which address the issue of marijuana use by daycare providers. One bill would prohibit state funds from going to daycare providers that hold medical marijuana cards, the other would issue mandatory drug tests for certain daycare providers.

Two other bills — House Bills 2040 and 2041, proposed by Republican Rep. Greg Smith — would, respectively, prevent any marijuana sales within one mile of schools and allow for a one-mile marijuana exclusion zone around any school grounds. Geoff Sugerman, who lobbies for the marijuana industry, said that a one-mile zoning law “would certainly serve as a moratorium in some cities,” and that Measure 91 already addresses this issue by giving localities the right to opt out of recreational cannabis if local voters support the move.

There is also a proposal to address the dangers of home hash oil production, and another to put pregnancy warning labels on cannabis products, among many others.



Photo Credit: Doug Kerr

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