Medical cannabis patients are abandoning the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) at a rapid pace, the Associated Press reports.
The number of state-registered medical cannabis patients has plummeted 41 percent in the last year, from 59,137 in to 34,892. Likewise, the number of sanctioned medical cannabis growers has also dropped at least 40 percent in the last year, from 23,175 to 13,959.
Both declines can be tied to the state’s prolific recreational marketplace, which voters established via a 2014 ballot initiative.
Many patients, for example, have decided to forgo the annual $200 renewal attached to OMMP ID cards in favor of the convenience and relatively low (albeit taxed) prices of adult-use retailers. Furthermore, Oregonians are now allowed to grow up to four plants for their own use, which is particularly attractive for rural patients.
Growers, meanwhile, are also turning away from the OMMP as regulators — who have become increasingly worried about the issue of Oregon cannabis product diversion into out-of-state markets — wrap more and more red tape around the program.
“The regulations around providing for other patients are quite onerous. I actually think that’s the biggest factor. Many patients are just unable to find a grower to supply them. …With the (regulatory) changes they’ve made, it’s much more difficult to care for other patients. Therefore, the number of growers willing to do that has dropped significantly.” — Cedar Grey, licensed grower and member of the Oregon Cannabis Commission, via the AP
The industry changes have created some unfortunate circumstances, including patients being pushed back underground to find unlicensed or illegal sources and growers who are abandoning Oregon and the OMMP as newer, friendlier programs pop up in other states.
Oregon first legalized medical cannabis in 1998.