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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: Lawmakers Say University, Dept. of Agriculture Resisting Hemp

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture have screwed up a chance to make the state a leader in the production of industrial hemp, according to Democrats in the state's Congressional delegation.

The Congressional representatives have publicly and privately criticized the university and state agency for their apparent reluctance to embrace the potential of hemp, reports Taylor W. Anderson at The Bulletin.

The lawmakers are trying to learn why, despite a successful effort from Congress to open the doors to hemp cultivation for farmers, Oregon is failing to seize the opportunity to encourage the promising industry.

"It's insane that we're having this conversation today," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland), who is among the most outspoken supporters of cannabis in Congress.

Blumenauer led the charge for the 2014 Farm Bill, which included a provision making it legal for state departments of agriculture or universities to run pilot research programs on industrial hemp, in preparation for the full legalization of hemp cultivation.

Oregon: Scant Hemp Harvest For Medicine Despite Wide Interest

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michael Hughes could legally grow marijuana in his back yard in Bend, Oregon, if he wanted to. But he can't grow hemp there.

Hughes bought a license to grow hemp, but due to a number of factors, it's still more legally difficult to grow hemp than marijuana and other crops in Oregon, reports Taylor W. Anderson at The Bend Bulletin.

The Legislature authorized hemp cultivation in 2009, despite it being considered marijuana and thus a Schedule I controlled substance federally. The law put the Oregon Department of Agriculture in charge of writing rules and licensing growers.

After taking five years(!) to finish the rules, the agency was finally ready this year for what turned out to be a largely unsuccessful growing season in which just nine licensed hemp farmers got crops into the ground. Those who braved the regulatory environment had to deal with months of uncertainty in a state that last November voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Timidity by the Department of Agriculture to embrace hemp has combined with federal law to cripple Oregon's hemp market, despite commercial interest in creating an industry that could lead the nation, according to farmers, businesses, lawmakers and the agencies overseeing hemp in Oregon and other states.

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: Federal Lawmakers Urge State To Speed Up Industrial Hemp Program

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Congress members from Oregon on Monday urged state agriculture officials to speed up a pilot project allowing farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp crops in time for next year's growing season.

The federal lawmakers said in a letter that the program missed the 2015 growing season because of concerns in the Oregon Legislature over how hemp would coexist with the marijuana industry, which became legal for recreational use by adults in Oregon on July 1, reports Shelby Sebens at Reuters.

Industrial hemp cultivation faces a number of complications, including the fact that all forms of cannabis are federally illegal. Prosecutors have cautiously allowed state hemp experiments to inch forward.

In the letter, sent to Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba and Oregon State University Director of the College of Agricultural Sciences Daniel Arp, lawmakers said provisions in last year's Farm Bill allow states and universities to research potential benefits of commercial hemp cultivation.

"The potential for industrial hemp production represents a great opportunity for Oregon agriculture," the lawmakers wrote.

Oregon, which has issued 13 hemp licenses to farmers since adopting rules for the program in January, is reviewing the letter, according to Agriculture Department spokesman Bruce Pokarney. The agency is reviewing the letter, Pokarney saikd.

Oregon: County Considers Excluding Marijuana From Farm Zones

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One Oregon County is considering excluding marijuana from farm zones, leading to questions about how cannabis will be regulated under legalization and the state's land use system.

Since voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November, Linn County officials have been bombarded with questions about where citizens can grow it, according to County Commissioner Roger Nyquist, reports Mateusz Perkowski at the Capital Press.

"We're even seeing real estate ads advertising properties as turnkey ready for marijuana production," Nyquist said.

County commissioners are considering limiting commercial marijuana production to light industrial and commercial zones, according to Nyquist, who said the commissioners were "concerned" about "problems resulting from growing marijuana outdoors near homes."

"There are security issues if you have millions of dollars worth of crop sitting next to families," he said.

But marijuana proponents see the proposal as a try to circumvent Measure 91. Using zoning rules to create a "functional ban" on marijuana dispensaries would be preempted by legalization, according to attorney Leland Berger, who advises cannabis businesses.

"I am starting to see municipalities who are bigoted against cannabis utilize land use and zoning laws to avoid state preemption," Berger said.

Oregon: First Industrial Hemp License In State Issued To Eagle Point Farmer

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Southwest Oregon farmer who has been issued the first state permit to grow industrial hemp said he and a nonprofit group of growers and activists plan a 25-acre hemp field this spring.

Edgar Winters of Eagle Point, director of the Oregon Agriculture Food & Rural Consortium, said it's difficult to get seeds, but also expressed optimism, reports Eric Mortenson at Capital Press.

Winters said the group would be ready to warehouse and process the hemp once a crop is harvested in late summer.

"We are in a position to do 40 tons a day at our processing mill,"said Winters, not to be confused with Texas blues rocker Edgar Winter of the Edgar Winter Group. "We've got our ducks in a row."

Importing hempseed requires the approval of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are working with the DEA on that process.

Winters said a Canadian hemp company, Hemp Textiles International, has "breeders' rights" to its see and will not share their genetics with Oregon growers. Oregon state law requires hempseed produced in Oregon to be replanted.

"We're at a standstill," Winters said, but he added that seeds might be available from Russia, Hungary, Australia or New Zealand.

"We have to import to get started," he said. "We don't want our farmers to sit around another year."

Oregon: Portland Man Asks State's Permission To Grow Industrial Hemp

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Agriculture officials in Oregon have for months now been working on rules for industrial hemp production, with a goal of having them finished in time for a Spring 2015 planting. But one man from Portland doesn't want to wait.

Rick Rutherford, 47, has some land in Dufur, and he doesn't want to wait, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Rutherford, who said he sees big potential for industrial hemp, last week sent an application to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, requesting permission to grow hemp on his land in Wasco County.

"Time is of the essence as planting seeds needs to be underway within the next couple of weeks to conduct a viable outdoor research pilot program in Oregon," wrote Courtney Moran, a Portland lawyer, in a letter accompanying Rutherford's application.

"I think it will be kind of fun to do," Rutherford said. "I have been itching to do this for a long time."

State officials on Thursday said they aren't ready to start issuing hemp-growing licenses. The rule writing process has been torturously slow, as officials labor of licensing fees and processing rules.

The Farm Bill approved by Congress earlier this year allows states where industrial hemp is legal -- including Oregon -- to permit hemp production by universities and state agriculture departments. Sixteen states allow hemp cultivation.

Oregon: Officials Say Industrial Hemp Production Rules Will Be Ready By Spring

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Officials in the Oregon Department of Agriculture on Tuesday said their goal is to have rules for the production of industrial hemp in place by planting time next spring.

The department has gathered a group of policy experts and agriculture officials, including Jim Cramer, director of market access and certification programs at the Department of Agriculture, and Russ Karow, who leads Oregon State University's soil and crop science program, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The group has scheduled its first meeting, in December, to write "robust" rules for hemp production.

Oregon is one of seven states which allows the production of industrial hemp, a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis grown for its fiber and seeds. Oregon officials so far haven't implemented the 2009 law, saying they planned to wait until the federal government changed its marijuana laws, which don't differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Sold In Dispensaries Must Be Tested For Mold, Pesticides

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon's new law which allows medical marijuana dispensaries, and creates a registry for them, also comes with another key provision aimed at protecting patients: it requires testing of cannabis for mold, mildew and pesticides.

That puts Oregon in the company of just a few states which require medical marijuana testing, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Nationally, some cannabis advocates have lobbied states which allow medical marijuana to require lab testing for impurities (and sometimes potency), arguing that patients deserve detailed information about the product before using it.

The 13-member panel in charge of writing rules for Oregon's House Bill 3460 met for a second time on Friday at the state capitol. The committee, made up of lawyers, advocates, law enforcement officials and state administrators, is working through complicated legal and technical issues as it figures out how to regulate an industry which is already booming in Oregon.

The committee is expected to finish drafting the rules by December 1.

Committee facilitator Tom Burns, who oversees Oregon's pharmaceutical drug program, asked the Oregon Department of Agriculture for input on how to proceed with cannabis testing standards. Theodore Bunch, with the state's Pesticide Analytical and Response Center, is heading up that effort and is scheduled to report to the committee on Friday.

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