Oregon: New Plant Limits for Medical Marijuana Program Hurting Patients

Oregon Capitol

New state regulations attempting to address the flow of medical cannabis into the black market leaves patients in painful bind

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, Oregon public health officials drafted strict rules for how many plants medical cannabis patients may cultivate at home or at a grow-site registered with the state. Legislators claim the regulations are the result of bi-partisan legislation passed this past session to stop the flow of medical cannabis to the community. A residence may have no more than a dozen mature plants, no matter how many people live there, including recreational plants. The law does not define the size of immature plants.

Bonnie King, a Salem resident and longtime cannabis activist, said, "This 'choice' has affected patients very negatively. No longer are OMMP growers making room for patients, instead, they are dropping their medical grow in lieu of the high-income potential of the recreational market. The patients lose."

"It is mandatory that you take action, regardless of your choice. Those registrants which remain registered with OMMP will be required to track the production, processing, and transfer of all marijuana items using the OLCC Cannabis Tracking System (CTS), and they will pay another new fee, for using CTS," said King.

Steve Wessing, a longtime medical cannabis proponent, told Hemp News, "Once again, the state has opted to support the black market rather than protecting patients. The only winners here are the criminals."

Patients growing for themselves at their residence:

Patients and their caregivers may possess a total of six mature plants and a dozen immature plants. Those limits include any plants they opt to grow under the state's recreational marijuana law. Under state law, households may grow up to four plants for recreational purposes.

A residence may have no more than a dozen mature plants and two dozen immature plants. That limit includes recreational plants.

Grow sites in residential neighborhoods in cities:

- May have a maximum of 12 mature plants
- 24 immature plants over 24 inches high
- Unlimited number of immature plants less than 24 inches high

Grow sites outside of cities and residential areas:

- May have a maximum of 48 mature plants
- 96 immature plants over 24 inches high
- Unlimited number of immature plants less than 24 inches high

Additionally, since Jan. 1, 2015, the state of Oregon has grandfathered into the system grow sites that have continuously operated.

Grandfathered grow sites within city limits and residential areas:

- May have a maximum of 12-24 mature plants
- 48 immature plants over 24 inches high
- Unlimited number of immature plants less than 24 inches high

Grandfathered grow sites outside of city limits and residential areas:

- May have a maximum of 48-96 mature plants
- 192 immature plants over 24 inches high
- Unlimited number of immature plants less than 24 inches high

In November 2014, Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 91, which allowed the production, sale, and possession of recreational marijuana by adults over 21 years of age. However, Ballot Measure 91 was a statutory, rather than a constitutional, measure. This allowed the Legislature to make changes to the language of the Measure and to change Oregon's landmark medical marijuana program.

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