Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Given Head Start Before Other Stores
Oregon Becomes First State to Expunge Prior Nonviolent Marijuana Records
By Steve Elliott
Oregon, which legalized marijuana in 2014 with Measure 91, is beginning sales Thursday, October 1. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to get a head start on sales before other, non-medical stores, which are expected to open in Autumn 2016.
This will ensure existing medical marijuana retailers have an opportunity to fairly compete in the new market as it emerges in the next several years. About 200 of the 345 medical shops have registered to expand their sales to all adults and expect a significant increase in profit margins.
Oregon voters passed Measure 91 in November 2014 with 56 percent support. Similar to initiatives in both Washington and Colorado, Measure 91 called for a slow and thoughtful roll-out of legalization.
In Washington and Colorado, possession of marijuana became legal over a year before retail sales began. This approach left adults with no lawful means of purchasing marijuana. This, too, was the path in Oregon until lawmakers passed new legislation this summer.
Possession became legal on July 1, 2015, yet the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the state agency responsible for taxing, licensing, and regulating commercial recreational marijuana, will not begin accepting applications until early next year and retail stores are not expected to open until late 2016.