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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Struggle While Recreational Marijuana Skyrockets


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A gold-rush mentality after recreational marijuana legalization in Oregon is part of what's leading medical cannabis dispensaries to close faster than ever.

Some medical dispensary owners had hoped that October 1, the day recreational marijuana sales became legal in Oregon, would be a saving grace for struggling businesses, reports Kristyna Wentz-Graff at The Oregonian.

"Most people are hanging on until the climate gets better," said Sam Heywood, co-owner of the Portland dispensary Farma, a few days before recreational sales went into effect. "If it didn't have that horizon where the regulatory climate is expected to improve, I suspect a lot of people would have given up by now."

But Donald Morse, director of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, is skeptical cannabis will change the fortunes of struggling dispensaries. According to Morse, there seems to be a widespread expectation of making millions off Oregon's recreational marijuana market, but insiders say factors including over saturation, bad locations, amateurish business practices and the difficulty and expenses of running cash-only businesses are leading shops to close.

Outside companies are increasingly venturing into the recreational marijuana business, as well, putting more pressure on the existing medical dispensaries: competition. "The medical market will go away within a year," predicted Morse.

Oregon: Union Negotiates First Cannabis Worker Contract In State


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At least one labor union has begun to organize workers in Oregon's marijuana industry.

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555 recently negotiated a three-year contract for employees at a Portland dispensary, and the union hopes to broker similar deals across the state as the cannabis dispensary takes off, according to Local 55 secretary-treasurer Jeff Anderson, reports George Rede at The Oregonian.

The initial contract provides for wages starting at $15 an hour for cashiers, $20 an hour for trimmers and up to $32 an hour for master cultivators at Stoney Brothers dispensary. Paid holidays and vacation days are also guaranteed in the contract, along with pension contributions and employer-subsidized health insurance.

"Our UFCW International Union has been involved in cannabis organizing for six to eight years, much of it in northern California involving medical dispensaries," Anderson said. The union represents about 3,000 marijuana workers in 10 legal and medical states and D.C., according to Anderson.

Union officials estimated the cannabis industry could expand to as many as 7,000 workers in Oregon. "Our goal is to have a couple thousand organized in the next five years," Anderson said.

Stoney Brothers president Trevor Reed approached Oregon union officials himself. "I'm a socialist at heart," Reed said. "I knew if I tied my hands to a contract, I would pay a living wage and if I didn't, I may or may not."

Oregon: Portland City Council Delays Vote On Marijuana Retailer Regulations


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Portland City Council on Wednesday delayed voting on new regulations for marijuana retailers due to concerns that the proposed rules could shut down existing businesses.

One dispensary owner told the Council that regulations intended to stop too many marijuana retailers from operating in close proximity could have unintended consequences, reports Brad Schmidt at The Oregonian. "The goal here is not put people out of business," said Mayor Charlie Hales.

City officials plan to issue marijuana retail licenses on a first-come, first-served basis, with the intent to level the playing field in what could quickly become a lucrative business. Officials hope to prevent marijuana stores from operating within 1,000 feet of each other.

If two shops are operating within 1,000 feet of each other, a new retailer could beat an established retailer in the application process, forcing the existing shop to shut down.

Officials now are considering exemptions that would allow case-by-case evaluations of siting issues; in some instances more than one pot shop may be allowed within 1,000 feet. Commissioner Nick Fish suggested this change, recommending something with a "clear legal standard."

Existing businesses could also be grandfathered in so that they could remain open.

Oregon: Portland Approves 2015 Hempstalk Festival


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hempstalk 2015 is on! The Portland City Council on Thursday voted to grant Hempstalk a permit for its 2015 festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park downtown. "We will have our Hempstalk festival," said organizer Paul Stanford.

The Council, on a 3-1 vote, overturned the Portland Parks Bureau's earlier decision to deny the permit, reports Andrew Theen at The Orergonian. The Police Bureau also opposed Hempstalk, a free 11-year-old festival which celebrates and advocates the legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.

The lone "no" vote came from Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Parks Bureau.

The decision means Hempstalk 2015 could occur around the same time as the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in Oregon, on October 1. "If I had my preference, it would be the first weekend of October," said Hempstalk organizer Stanford of the Campaign of the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH).

Parks officials, meanwhile, claimed the event is set for September 26 and 27. Stanford said he had "no idea" where they got that date.

"It sounds like this event was imperfect," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on Thursday. "It sounds like there were some people smoking marijuana there." But Mayor Hales added that most large events in Portland are imperfect.

Oregon Stops Issuing Industrial Hemp Licenses


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


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: Odor of Marijuana Smoke From Neighbor's Apartment Not Legally Offensive, Court Rules


"We are not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage," the appeals court wrote. "Indeed, some people undoubtedly find the scent pleasing."

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to declare the smell of marijuana smoke drifting into neighbors' homes as "unpleasant."

The appeals court ruled that marijuana smoke isn't necessary offensive to all people, although rotten eggs or raw sewage are physically offensive odors to everyone, reports Aimee Green at The Oregonian.

"We are not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage," the appeals court wrote. "Indeed, some people undoubtedly find the scent pleasing."

With the appeals court ruling, recreational cannabis users in Oregon may rest assured that smoking weed at home shouldn't result in any law enforcement hassles.

The appeals court ruling came in the case of Jared William Lang, who was 34 in November 2012 when an officer with the Philomath Police Department came to his apartment after neighbors on both sides reported the smell of marijuana coming from his unit. One person claimed "that the smell was especially difficult for him because he was currently attending rehabilitation for drug use and the smell of marijuana was a 'trigger' for him," according to an appeals court summary.

Oregon: Draft Rules Issued For Recreational Marijuana Sales


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


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


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: Hempstalk Festival 'Will Never Surrender;' Stanford Appeals Permit Denial Again


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"We will never surrender." That is the message Paul Stanford, organizer of the annual Hempstalk festival, has for the Portland City Council.

Portland parks officials last November denied a permit to Hempstalk for its 2015 waterfront event, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian. The free cannabis and hemp festival celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

Stanford and his supporters will be back in three weeks for another appeal hearing before the Portland City Council. The conflict dates back at least to 2013 when parks and police officials claimed festival organizers had a "demonstrated inability" to control pot use and behavior at prior festivals.

"Any appeal of a parks permitting decision making its way to a City Council hearing is unusual, but two hearings in consecutive years is downright peculiar," wrote The Oregonian's Theen.

City officials, almost certainly not coincidentally, mailed the denial notice just one day after Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana sales. It was the second denial for Stanford in two years.

The dispute, as in past years, enters on the public consumption of marijuana at the festival.

Stanford said last year that Hempstalk would be "the only place in Portland where marijuana wasn't consumed on that day."

Oregon: Early Recreational Marijuana Sales Bill Signed By Governor


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday signed legislation allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state to start selling recreational cannabis to adult consumers on October 1.

Consumers 21 and older will be able to buy up to a quarter-ounce of pot per day at dispensaries, as well as seeds and up to four immature plants, under Senate Bill 460, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian.

This will be the first time medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to sell to people who don't have a medical card. Supporters of the measure said Oregon should go ahead with sales to divert traffic from the black market. Dispensary owners were also anxious to move into recreational marijuana sales, because the market is oversaturated on the medical side.

There will be no tax on products in the dispensaries until January 4, under the temporary sales program. After that, a 25 percent sales tax will kick in.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission plans to license a network of recreational cannabis retailers and plans to allow them to open sometime in the second half of 2016. Many medical dispensaries are expected to switch to the recreational market.

Recreational marijuana retailers are expected to offer a wider range of products, and will be allowed to sell up to an ounce at the time to adults.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Ask For Lifeline To Recreational Market


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana dispensary owners on Thursday begged Oregon lawmakers to let them sell to recreational cannabis users, once legalization is implemented on July 1.

"We don't know a single dispensary doing well in this over-saturated market," said Meghan Wallstatter, who along with her husband Matt owns the Pure Green dispensary in Portland, reports Jeff Mapes at The Oregonian. She called recreational marijuana sales a "much-needed lifeline" for medical dispensaries.

The Oregon Health Authority has approved 310 dispensary licenses; another 93 are pending, according to a June 12 tally.

More than 130 dispensaries have been approved in Portland, and only a few of them are making money, according to consultant Sam Chapman, who said it could lead to a a big shakeout with only a few shops left open.

"If we truly want to keep this a craft industry and we want to empower the mom and pop businesses to be able to survive in this industry, we need to have early recreational sales," Chapman said. "A lot of these businesses are starting to drown."

The Oregon House-Senate marijuana committee is looking at language that would allow dispensaries to sell some cannabis products to recreational users while the Oregon Liquor Control Commission sets up its own retail network.

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