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Oregon: Medical Marijuana Program Numbers Decrease, Patient and Grower Restrictions Increase

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Since recreational cannabis sales became legal, the number of people with medical cards dropped from 77,000 to 67,000, according to state officials

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Thousands of patients are letting their official Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) card lapse due to the financial cost to obtain the card. The annual fee is not worth the savings to obtain the medical card, according to several patients.

The Oregon Legislature recently passed SB 1057, which will subject medical growers to expensive seed to sale tracking. It does not allow the growers sell into the legal market.

Oregon: First Recreational Marijuana Licenses Approved

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon has taken a big step toward fully implementing its recreational marijuana industry by January 2017. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved its first recreational marijuana licenses Friday, approving eight growers.

“These licensees reflect the pioneering spirit Oregon is known for,” said Rob Patridge, OLCC Chair in a release Friday. “They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and possess the entrepreneurial spirit of this industry.”

The licenses were issued to growers in Clackamas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Tillamook, and Washington counties. The growers consist of a mix of large and medium scale indoor, mixed, and outdoor operations. Once the growers pay their annual licensing fee they can begin operating.

The OLCC has received more than 900 recreational license applications so far. It says it plans to issue more than 850 by the end of this year when it assumes full control of the regulation of Oregon's recreational marijuana industry.

For now, dispensaries licensed under the Oregon Heath Authority’s medical marijuana program can conduct recreational sales to persons 21 and older. That provision expires at the end of the year.

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: 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.

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