tom burns

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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."

Oregon: Liquor Control Commission Names Marijuana Czar - It's A Former Pharma Lobbyist

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Tuesday announced that Tom Burns, a former pharmaceutical lobbyist who now works at the Oregon Health Authority as director of pharmacy programs and ran the state's medical cannabis dispensary program, will oversee the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Before working for the state of Oregon, Burns served as top administrator in the California Senate and was a lobbyist for GlaxoSmithKline, a Big Pharma giant, reports Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week.

The OLCC has been in charge of distributing and regulating liquor in Oregon since alcohol Prohibition ended, and now that the voters have approved Measure 91, it is now in the position of implementing marijuana legalization.

"Tom has navigated these waters before on the medical side," said OLCC Executive Director Steven Marks. "In line with Chairman Rob Patridge's direction, Tom will lead the implementation of Oregon's recreational marijuana law with a measured approach that protects children, promotes safety, and brings the marijuana industry into the regulated market."

Photo of Tom Burns: Willamette Week

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.

Oregon: Officials Now Inspecting Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

This weekend will mark the first month of medical marijuana dispensary inspections by officials with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program. The Oregon Legislature formally legalized dispensaries last year.

The agency hired three inspectors, according to Karynn Fish, spokeswoman for the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the medical marijuana dispensary program, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Inspectors in the field make unannounced visits to the dispensaries, according to dispensary program director Tom Burns.

Oregon had issued licenses to 90 medical marijuana dispensaries as of last month.

"The regulatory structure is in place," Burns said in an email to The Oregonian. "The applications have been processed. Now enforcement begins.

"Dispensaries should be on notice," Burns said. "We'll be visiting them soon."

"We look forward to working with marijuana dispensary operators in Oregon to help provide them with the products and consultative services they need to stay in compliance with the precise regulations the state has established," said Ben Wu, CEO of Kush Bottles, Inc. "We can help dispensaries satisfy both the state's regulations and their customer's desire for exceptional products."

The shops will be inspected within six months of being licensed, according to officials. Inspectors will visit at least once a year, after that.

Oregon: Officials Back Off Proposed Ban On Marijuana-Infused Treats

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana-infused edible treats just came within a gnat's whisker of getting banned by Oregon health officials, but seem to have dodged the bullet, at least for now. Officials at the Oregon Health Authority got hundreds of emails opposing the ban, and the new set of rules released on Monday seeks only to ban marijuana-laced products that are made in packaged in ways that might appeal to children.

The new rules ban cannabis-infused edibles that are brightly colored or formed in the shapes of animals, toys, or candies, reports Chad Garland of the Associated Press. They require cannabis products to be sold in child-proof containers, with no cartoons or "bright colors."

In a release announcing the new rules, Tom Burns, director of Pharmacy Programs for the Oregon Health Authority, said "Marijuana isn't candy, and it shouldn't look like candy."

SB 1531, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month, required the health authority to set the rules. The bill also allows cities and counties to ban dispensaries within their borders, until May 2015 anyway.

The new law calls for the Oregon Health Authority to implement rules designed to keep marijuana away from children.

An earlier draft of the proposed rules would have instituted a blanket ban on all cakes, cookies, candy and gum that contain cannabis, but Burns said the agency had gotten "a couple hundred" emails from patients upset about that.

Oregon: Health Authority Issues First 8 Licenses To Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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The Oregon Health Authority has issued licenses to the first eight medical marijuana dispensaries; the establishments were finally legalized by the Legislature last year after years of existing in a gray area of the law.

“For the first time, a legal and regulatory structure is in place to govern the operation of dispensaries,” said dispensary program supervisor Tom Burns, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.“The registration process is the first to ensuring safe access to medical marijuana for patients and protecting the safety of our communities.”

The names and locations of the eight licensed dispensaries are private under the law passed last year. However, the Oregon Health Authority gave applicants the option of allowing their shop names and locations to be released; seven of the eight licensed shops allowed that information to be released.

Getting a licensed were Pure Green in Northeast Portland, located on the site of one of the state's first post-Prohibition liquor stores; Oregon's Finest, 1327 NW Kearney St., Portland; NW Green Oasis, 1035 SE Tacoma St., Portland; Releaf Center, 2372 N. 1st St., Suite B, Hermiston; Cherry City Compassion, 202 5 25th St. SE, Salem; Dr. Jolly's, 415 SE 3rd St, Bend; and Emerald City Medical, 1474 W 6th Ave., Eugene.

Oregon: 289 Apply To Operate Medical Marijuana Dispensaries On Opening Day

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon's medical marijuana dispensary registration program got off to a "robust" start on Mondasy, with 289 applications, according to state officials.

Program director Tom Burns said there was heavy traffic at the state's medical marijuana dispensary application website, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The state is issuing registrations on a first come, first served basis.

The rules require dispensaries to have at least 1,000 feet between them, leading to competition among already existing locations which are closer than 1,000 feet. That competition is likely what drove relatively high numbers of Multnomah County registrations on Monday, according to Burns.

Multnomah County saw the most applications, with 135 dispensaries starting the registration process. Lane County had 41, Jackson County had 18, Deschutes had 17, and Lincoln and Marion each had 11. A few counties, including Washington and Clackamas, had fewer than 10 each.

Oregon's existing medical marijuana dispensaries had until now operated in a legal gray area, relying on the tolerance of local police. Washington County and a few other localities had taken steps to shut down dispensaries, while Portland and Multnomah County generally let them operate.

Oregon: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Registry Starts On Monday

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Health Authority on Monday will begin registering dispensaries under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

By law, only patients or their caregivers registered with the OMMP are allowed to purchase marijuana from a dispensary, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. Customers will be required to show a valid medical marijuana card and ID before they can enter.

Under Oregon law, only cardholders -- patients, caregivers and growers, are legally allowed to have marijuana. Patients can possess up to 24 ounces, caregivers can have up to 24 ounces for every patient under their care, and growers can produce cannabis for four patients, possessing up to 24 ounces for each patient.

Dispensary operators and employees don't have to have medical marijuana cards, but will still enjoy legal protections while they are in the facility.

Dispensaries are allowed to be reimbursed for the "normal and customary costs of doing business," and are required to document their expenses. That information must be given to state regulators upon request.

The shops will be allowed to sell growing marijuana plants, but plants taller than 12 inches or with flowers aren't allowed for sale.

If flowering plants are found at a location, the state will consider it a grow site, and the dispensary's registration could be revoked. Grow sites and dispensaries cannot share a location.

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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