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Oregon: Task Force Says State Should Should Fund Marijuana Research Institute

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon should pay for an independent cannabis institute to study the herb's medicinal and public health benefits, according to a task force including state officials, scientists and leading doctors.

Tax dollars from recreational marijuana sales would supplement private funding to underwrite the semi-public Oregon Institute for Cannabis Research, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Research scientists and staff would be hired to navigate the complexities of getting marijuana studies federally approved, according to the report, prepared by the Oregon Health Authority.

The recommendation was included in a report submitted to the Oregon Legislature on Monday. Among the proposals is that the institute itself would grow and handle cannabis for research purposes.

"This institute will position Oregon as a leader in cannabis research and serve as an international hub for what will soon be a rapidly accelerating scientific field," according to the report. "No other single initiative could do as much to strengthen the Oregon cannabis industry and to support the needs of Oregon medical marijuana patients."

While the federal government allows research on marijuana, the approval process is tortuously complicated, and must use cannabis grow at a federal facility at The University of Mississippi.

Oregon: Marijuana Shoppers Adjust To 25% Sales Tax

OregonMarijuanaLeaf[TheMarijuanaReport]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana shoppers in Oregon are taking a new 25 percent sales tax in stride, according to many dispensary owners and industry observers.

The state on January 1, after a three-month tax holiday, imposed the tax on recreational cannabis sales, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The tax will eventually be replaced with a 17 percent sales tax, once the Oregon Liquor Control Commission takes control of the new recreational marijuana industry later this year.

While some customers have shrugged off the tax, "we have people that say they would rather go back to their 'guy,' so to speak, and walk out," said Matt Price, who owns the Cannabliss chain of dispensaries.

General manager Nathan Krytenberg at Glisan Buds and Foster Buds took the unusual step of absorbing the tax. He says his "strategic decision" should generate enough additional sales to cover the 25 percent hit.

Krytenberg said he hopes his move generates customer loyalty. More than 100 shops compete for cannabis customers in Portland, and there's a well-established black market, as well.

"To be quite honest with you, if we even take a small hit, I believe the fact that we are doing this will put us in a better market position," said Krytenberg. His Glisan Buds and Foster Buds shops sell marijuana for $9 and $15 a gram.

Oregon: World Famous Cannabis Cafe Still Open Despite Clear Air Provisions

MadelineMartinezWorldFamousCannabisCafe[Facebook]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon's newly expanded Indoor Clean Air Act kicked in on New Year's Day, but the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland remains open this week, hosting popular Stoner Bingo games and Thursday night jam sessions.

Multnomah County has already received a complaint about cannabis smoking in the business, and officials plan to send owner Madeline Martinez a letter reminding her of the law, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

A county code enforcement officer will visit the cafe after a 10-day grace period to make sure Martinez has complied, said Multnomah County spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti. The officer would outline the steps the cafe needs to take, and make an additional unannounced visit, she said.

Penalties could include daily fines of up to $500 for continued noncompliance, according to Sullivan-Springhetti.

A county public health official dropped by the club last month after hearing complaints about smoking in the establishment. That official, Erik Vidstrand, told Martinez that smoking and vaping cannabis would be illegal in her club after January 1.

Lawmakers this year expanded Oregon's 2009 Indoor Clean Air Act to prohibit using vapor pens and e-cigs in public areas. Marijuana was added to the law, which had targeted only tobacco.

Oregon: 142 Marijuana Applications Received On First Day

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Monday was the first day for license applications to enter Oregon's new recreational marijuana retail market, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission had received 142 applications by 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Seventy-five of the applications came from growers, most of them planning operations in Clackamas, Jackson, Lane and Multnomah counties, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Oregon doesn't plan to cap the number of marijuana licenses it will issue. According to a report from the liquor commission, the state will issue a total of 850 recreational marijuana licenses by the end of next year.

Applications are being accepted from marijuana processors, wholesalers, retailers, producers, laboratories and researchers, but as of Tuesday morning, no labs or researchers had applied, according to the OLCC.

The counties with the largest number among all applicants so far, according to the OLCC, are Multnomah County with 30; Clackamas County with 18; Jackson County with 17 and Lane County with 16 applications.

Oregon: Recreational Marijuana Sales Tax Begins Jan. 4

OregonMarijuanaLeaf[CannabisIndustryToday]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

All good things must come to an end, it seems, and it's the same with the Oregon weed tax holiday. Recreational marijuana consumers in the state will have to pay a 25 percent sales tax starting Monday, January 4.

The Oregon Legislature earlier this year approved allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot to adults 21 and older, tax-free, starting on Oct. 1, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. But tax-free sales end on Monday, when the state imposes a tax that will last until the end of 2016.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission isn't expected to open state-licensed recreational marijuana stores until late 2016; once that program is up and running, the 25 percent tax at dispensaries will be replaced with permanent 17 percent sales tax at recreational pot stores.

The Oregon Department of Revenue on Tuesday said they are prepared to deal with large sums of cash from dispensaries paying the new tax. Cameras have been added, employees have gotten security training, and a new "cash handling location" has been set up to accept large payments, according to the agency.

Marijuana's Schedule I classification under federal law has kept most traditional banks away from the business, fearing conspiracy charges and money laundering investigations. That means most marijuana transactions must be handled in cash.

Oregon: Higher Medical Marijuana Grower Fees Proposed

OregonMarijuanaLeaf[TheMarijuanaReport]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana growers would be required to pay a $200 annual fee for every patient the grow for under a proposal being considered by the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon medical marijuana growers can grow cannabis for up to four patients; under current rules, the state charges $50 for each patient a grower takes on, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Recent expansion of the health authority's oversight of production and processing prompted officials to propose the steeper fees to help "cover expenses" for the bureaucracy.

Officials estimate the grower fee increase would boost revenue from $1.3 million to $5.2 million for the 2015-2017 budget cycle.

People who grow only for themselves won't have to pay any additional fees. The cost of getting an Oregon medical marijuana card also remains the same, at $200. Oregon, along with Minnesota and New Jersey, already has the highest medical marijuana patient fees in the nation, according to ProCon.org.

The proposed fee increase for Oregon growers was discussed at a Monday meeting of the health authority's rules advisory committee, which is drafting regulations for the medicinal cannabis industry as well as parts of the recreational marijuana industry, including serving sizes.

The increased fees, if finalized, would kick in on March 1.

U.S.: It's A Felony! Feds Warn Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can't Be Mailed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it's a felony offense to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.

The recent federal advisory was forwarded to about 100 members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association this week, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The association "strongly discourages" Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. Postal Service for delivery from accepting "any type of marijuana advertising," according to Laurie Hieb, the group's executive director.

"It's against the law," Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. "Unfortunately, the ONPA cannot do anything about this."

A postal official hand-delivered the warning on Monday to the Chinook Observer, a newspaper in Long Beach, Washington. It's not clear what prompted it; the newspaper and the Daily Astorian distribute a weekly supplement called Coast Weekend, which runs advertisments from a dispensary in Long Beach and others on the Oregon coast.

The Long Beach paper reaches about 4,400 people; about 2,560 subscribers receive the paper through the U.S. mail, according to Steve Forrester, president of EO Media Group, which publishes 11 newspapers, including those in Long View and Astoria. Forrester is also editor/publisher of the Daily Astorian.

Oregon Stops Issuing Industrial Hemp Licenses

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon has "temporarily" halted issuance of state licenses for industrial hemp cultivation, pointing to policy issues that emerged during the inaugural year of the program.

The decision doesn't impact those currently licensed to grow hemp in the state, Oregon Department of Agriculture officials said on Tuesday, reports Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian. The decision is effective immediately, coming at the end of the current growing season.

The problems will be resolved in time for next year's growing season -- or at least, officials hope so, according to Lindsay Eng, who oversees the state's hemp program.

The decision to stop issuing licenses isn't tied to concerns raised by marijuana growers who don't want hemp planted near their crops, according to Eng. Marijuana farmers say hemp production near their cops poses a risk for cross pollination and threatens the quality of their cannabis crop.

Eng said the Department of Agriculture needs to address a new law reducing from three years to one the licenses for hemp production. The change takes effect on January 1, 2016.

"We just didn't feel it was prudent to continue issuing new three-year licenses when so much might change," she said. Eng said the 2009 hemp law is "very short and general" and doesn't address the growing practices of farmers currently licensed to cultivate the crop.

Oregon: Thriving Hash Oil Market Skyrockets Demand For Marijuana Trim

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Many of us can remember just a few years ago when it wasn't too hard to find free marijuana "trim," the leaves snipped from harvested cannabis flowers. Hell, quite a few growers had so much of the stuff, they threw it in the trash. How times have changed.

Trim has become a lucrative element of the cannabis economy in places like newly legal Oregon, where it's become a sought-after commodity in the state's thriving market for cannabis concentrates and infused edibles, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Trim has gone from free, almost being considered garbage, to fetching up to $400 a pound in Oregon. While $50 a pound was the norm just a couple years ago, $250 is closer to average now. (Cannabis flowers typically sell from $1,400 to $3,000 a pound on Oregon's wholesale market.)

One of the under-examined aspects of this green rush is the fact that it's made it much more difficult for cancer patients and their families to find full extract cannabis oil (FECO), popularly known as "Rick Simpson Oil" or RSO, because that same trim which would have gone into making FECO through an alcohol extraction process is now often diverted into making butane hash oil (BHO), favored by many recreational consumers.

Oregon: Draft Rules Issued For Recreational Marijuana Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon marijuana dispensaries that plan to make recreational sales to people 21 and older must first tell the state health authority and record the birthdates of shoppers, along with the quantities of cannabis they buy, under draft rules issued Wednesday.

Marijuana dispensaries are also required to prominently post a sign at the entrance letting consumers know they are either serving both the medical and the recreational market, or that they are a medical-only shop, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

The guidelines for early recreational sales are the first of several sets of rules to be crafted by the Oregon Health Authority for the marijuana program, according to program administrator Steve Wagner. The agency will also issue rules for processors, growers, testing labs, serving sizes, and labeling, according to Wagner.

Recreational sales are set to begin on October 1 in medical marijuana dispensaries which choose to become a part of the program. Wagner said the public, including dispensary owners, will have about one week to comment on the rules.

Also in the draft rules:

• Dispensary staff members must distribute with every recreational marijuana purchase a state-issued information card about cannabis.

Washington: Top Marijuana Advisor Steps Down

RandySimmons[JohnLok-TheSeattleTimes]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The bureaucrat who helped implement Washington state's recreational marijuana law -- and dismantle the state's medical marijuana program -- is stepping down.

Randy Simmons, deputy director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said this year's "difficult" legislative session played a factor in his decision, reports Bob Young at The Seattle Times.

Battles erupted as monied I-502 business investors lobbied the Washington Legislature to "fold" the state's medical marijuana industry into the recreational side; that happened, effectively channeling all patients through I-502 stores and shutting down access through medical dispensaries statewide. It was an unappetizing spectacle, with 502 merchants picking over the remains of the medical marijuana community, looking for more profits.

"It was a hard legislative session," Young complained, evidently feeling patients should have uncomplainingly been led down the primrose path of eliminating medical dispensaries. "I felt tired of all the battles going on."

Simmons, 63, is leaving his job at the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board at the end of August to take a senior administrator's job at the Washington Department of Revenue. He said he's looking forward to a less stressful job.

Oregon: TV Station Pulls Marijuana Commercial That Would Have Been Nation's First

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advertisements apparently still aren't quite ready for prime time TV.

What would have been the first cannabis commercial on network television anywhere in the United States was scheduled to air Wednesday on KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon, reports Molly Harbbarger at The Oregonian. During the evening news broadcast, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference had planned to solicit attendees.

But KATU General Manager John Tamerlano said on Tuesday the station had decided to pull the ad, reports Willamette Week. Tamerlano flatly said the station "doesn't accept marijuana advertising."

A Denver TV station had made the same decision last month. KMGH-Channel 7 had planned to air ads for companies operating dispensaries and also for vape pen manufacturers, but the station eventually blinked because of pot's continued illegality under federal law.

Recreational cannabis became legal in Oregon on July 1. Commercial sales to adults will start in medical dispensaries on October 1.

Oregon: Portland Police Say Bringing Marijuana From Washington Isn't An Issue

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Portland police on Wednesday said that Oregonians who travel to Washington state to buy marijuana to bring it back are "not an issue" as long as they stay within legal limits.

Beginning on July 1, Oregonians 21 and older are allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana away from home, and up to eight ounces at home, under the recreational cannabis legalization law approved by voters last November.

Oregonians going to Washington to shop for marijuana are nothing new, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Sales data released by the Washington Liquor Control Board for May showed that one recreational 502 shop in Vancouver -- just across the state line -- sold more marijuana than any other shop in the state, thanks in part to Oregonians, who account for about half of sales.

But Portland police said they don't see this as a problem.

"We are not doing interdiction on people who are going there to buy their weed and bringing it back," Sgt. Pete Simpson said. "Our drugs and vice division has not and does not focus on low level drug transfers of any kind. They are working large scale operations, which is not what we are talking about."

Oregon: State Marijuana Chief Fired By Liquor Control Commission

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Tom Burns, who directed marijuana programs for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, was fired on Thursday.

Burns saw implementation of the state's medical marijuana dispensary program, and had led efforts to establish a recreational cannabis market in the state after voters approved legalization last fall, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Burns confirmed his dismissal in an interview with The Oregonian Thursday afternoon.

Declining to comment any further, Burns directed questions to Steven Marks, executive director of the OLCC; Marks couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Rob Patridge, chairman of the liquor control commission, declined to comment on Burns' firing, characterizing it as a "personel matter."

The position's duties will be taken on by Will Higlin, the OLCC's director of licensing, until a permanent replacement is named.

The agency announced that Burns' firing will not affect the timeline for drafting recreational marijuana industry rules and regulations.

State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), co-chair of the House-Senate committee on implementing recreational marijuana legalization, said she was shocked and disappointed by the news of Burns' firing.

"I don't know how we're going to get through this without him," Burdick said. "He's the most knowledgeable person on marijuana policy in the state. It's a real shock. It's going to be a real loss to the legislative effort."

U.S.: Former N.M. Gov. Gary Johnson Calls WA State Pot Rules 'Worst-Case Scenario'

GaryJohnsonSmilingPointingLiveFree[EddieMoore-AlbuquerqueJournal]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, now CEO of a marijuana company, on Sunday told an audience of cannabis industry representatives that voters, not politicians, are behind the legalization movement, and he called Washington state's troubled implementation of legalization Initiative 502 a "worst-case scenario."

Johnson, a vocal advocate of legalization and former Presidential candidate who plans to run again next year, gave the keynote speech at the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. About 750 people attended the conference, according to organizers.

Johnson, CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a publicly traded company producing marijuana-infused products.

When it comes to Washington's botched implementation of flawed legalization Initiative 502, Johnson was very critical of the over-taxation of cannabis in that model.

"How are they going to regulate it and make it a legal product? They have screwed it up as bad as they possibly can," Johnson said. "They have taxed it to the level where if you are a prior user of marijuana, prior to it being legal in Washington, you are still consuming it on the black market because of how expensive it is. It's the worst-case scenario and they have it playing out in Washington state."

"Pay attention to how you are taxing it," Johnson said. "You are moving the entire industry from a black market.

Oregon: Eastern Residents Voted Against Legal Marijuana; Urge Tight Rein On Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon voters last November chose to legalize marijuana. But some residents in the eastern part of the state still aren't ready to let go of prohibition.

Pendleton, an eastern Oregon town where the motto is "Let 'er buck" and the main attraction is the 105-year-old Pendleton Round-Up, may ban cannabis retailers from the city, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

"When it comes to a lot of our laws, they are determined by a couple of counties and Portland," whined Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk. "We are used to that, so what we have to do is buck up and figure out what we are going to do."

Among many in eastern Oregon, especially more rural areas of the state, the marijuana's reputation as a gateway to hard drugs, mental illness, family dysfunction and addiction still seems strong, The Oregonian reports.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Thursday held the first of 10 statewide public forums as part of an effort to collect input from residents. The first two, in Baker City and Pendleton, attracted more than 200 residents from a mostly rural area.

"I am trying to picture what this is going to look like in our town," said John Day coucilwoman Lisa Weigum, 30, who drove 80 miles to attend the Baker City meeting.

Oregon: Outdoor Medical Marijuana Growers Organize To Have Voice In Regulation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 100 medical marijuana farmers who cultivate cannabis in the southern part of Oregon -- the epicenter of the state's growing community -- met on Thursday to voice concerns about how they'll fit into a newly regulated industry.

The meeting, organized by the Oregon Sungrown Growers Guild, was held at a grange hall in Josephine County, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The group was established last spring to represent the interests of southern Oregon's outdoor marijuana farmers.

Thursday's meeting featured a short talk by state Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), who strongly supports medical and recreational cannabis. Growers told Sen. Prozanski they don't want any changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, and they're worried about zoning restrictions that could squeeze them out of both the medical and recreational marijuana programs.

They're also worried about deep-pocketed out-of-state investors swooping into their small communities and establishing price-gouging marijuana facilities.

"My goal is not to allow the medical program to be folded into the (recreational) program," Sen. Prozanski said, addressing concerns from the growers that they could meet a similar fate as their counterparts in Washington state, where the Legislature seems intent on doing exactly that. "My goal is not to impact the small farmer."

Oregon: Jeff Merkley Becomes First U.S. Senator To Support Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) has said he plans to vote for Measure 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon, which would make him the first sitting U.S. Senator to support legalization.

"I lean in support of it," Sen. Merkley told Talking Points Memo's Sahil Kapur last week. Reporter Jeff Mapes reported on Sen. Merkley's stance earlier this month, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.)

"I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case," Merkley said. "And there is concern about a series of new products -- and we don't have a real track record from Colorado and Washington.

"But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure," Merkley said.

A Merkley staffer said her boss had stopped short of officially endorsing the ballot initiative, reports Courtney Sherwood at Reuters. "The senator has not endorsed the ballot measure, but he has said he will vote for it," said Courtney Warner Crowell, Merkley's deputy communications director.

Oregon: Rick Steves Kicks Off Tour Promoting Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Rick Steves, the mild-mannered travel guru who was a key supporter of Washington state's flawed but successful marijuana legalization initiative in 2012, arrived in Oregon on Tuesday to kick off a nine-city tour promoting Measure 91, a measure on November's general election ballot which would legalize cannabis in Oregon.

Steves, in a recent commentary on Measure 91, called it a "smart law" designed to address the reality of marijuana use, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

"Marijuana is a drug," wrote Steves, a NORML board member who is seemingly eager to court the anti-pot crowd. "It's not good for you. It can be addictive. But marijuana is here to stay. No amount of wishing will bring us a utopian 'drug-free society.'"

Steves explains that owning his own business has given him the freedom to express his personal views about marijuana without fear of being fired.

"When it comes to America's prohibition on marijuana, I can consider lessons learned from my travels and say what I really believe when I'm back home," Steves said.

The travel writer last year was named one of the 50 most influential consumers by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Oregon: Marijuana Dispensary Pays Thousands As Health Authority Levies First Fines

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Health Authority has levied its first fines against medical marijuana dispensaries for violating the rules.

Portland Compassionate Caregivers this week paid $6,500 in fines for 13 "serious" violations, including poor record keeping and evidence of cannabis consumption on the premises, reports Anna Staver at the Statesman Journal. The state subsequently ordered the dispensary to close, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

"This penalty sends a message in no uncertain terms -- you must comply with Oregon law or you will pay the price," said Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority.

The shop was cited for violations during an unannounced, mandatory annual on-site inspection. OHA's regulations to enforce the state's 2013 medical marijuana dispensary law require an on-site inspection of each facility within six months of receiving a license, and annually thereafter.

William Lupton, the operator of Portland Compassionate Caregivers, paid the fines on August 26. According to the state's agreement with Lupton, the dispensary, at 4020 SE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, may reopen, but must first be inspected again.

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