Before fully understanding the upcoming regulation schemes for recreational marijuana in Oregon, it is important to recognize the individuals responsible for implementing Measure 91 and determining the regulation process. Here’s the breakdown:
Tom Burns, appointed as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC) Director of Marijuana Programs, is the lead policy person, outside the commission, in charge of executing Measure 91. He previously supervised the implementation of Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensary program. In addition, he has served as the Director of Pharmacy Programs at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and has over forty years of state government and policy experience. This experience includes serving as a longtime policy advisor to California Republican lawmakers. Burns has also worked as a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist and GlaxoSmithKline’s vice president for state government affairs.
The OLCC Commissioners will be working closely alongside Burns in implementing Measure 91. Members of the OLCC Commission include Commission Chair Rob Patridge and Commissioners Robert Rice, Pamela Weatherspoon, Marvin D. Révoal, and Michael E. Harper, Sr. The Board of Commissioners’ different experiences will all impact the implementation of Measure 91 and regulation of recreational marijuana.
Chair Patridge: Born and raised in Oregon, Commission Chair Patridge currently serves as Klamath County’s District Attorney. His prior experience includes serving as the President of the Medford City Council, Deputy District Attorney in southern Oregon, and three terms as Medford’s State Representative. Commission Chair Patridge also served as General Counsel for U.S. Congressman Greg Walden and for the Rogue Valley Manor/Pacific Retirement Services.
Commissioner Rice: A Portland restaurant owner, represents the 1st Congressional District and hospitality industry. He has also served as a board member for Associated Oregon Industries, National Restaurant Association, and Liberty Northwest Companies. Commissioner Weatherspoon, representing the 3rd Congressional District, works with Community Relations for Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
Commissioner Weatherspoon: Born in southern California and raised in southern Oregon, Commissioner Weatherspoon has remained an active participant in the community through her work with the Make it Better Foundation for the Portland Trail Blazers, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs.
Commissioner Revoal: Representing the 4th Congressional District, Commissioner Révoal, a former police officer, is now the owner of Senior Principal of Pacific Benefit Planners. His other previous experience includes business leadership relating to board development, strategic planning, and continuation planning for nonprofits and private businesses.
Commissioner Harper: A former basketball player and now assistant coach of Lewis & Clark College’s basketball team, Commissioner Harper has been with the OLCC for almost four years. In addition to working as an agent with State Farm Insurance for more than 20 years, he has also served on the Oregon Commission on Children and Families and Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board.
In beginning the implementation and regulation process, the OLCC has organized a Marijuana listening tour, which has taken place and continues to take place throughout the state. These listening sessions began in Baker City on January 22, 2015 and will conclude in Newport on March 11, 2015. Additional cities with meetings have included Pendelton, Salem, Eugene, Ashland, Klamath Falls, Bend, Tigard, and Clackamas. These meetings are designed to encourage residents to provide feedback and input regarding marijuana regulations specifically focused on the production, processing, and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.
In its attempt to remain informed about the potential impacts of the recreational marijuana market, the OLCC also recently released a report on marijuana consumption. The report indicated that heavy marijuana consumers are likely to stay away from the retail market and instead remain with current sources such as the black market or the medical marijuana program. This represents a main challenge for the recreational market, as one focus is to deter marijuana users away from the illicit market.
Accordingly, this month’s OLCC meeting focused primarily on discussing recreational marijuana legalization with potential votes on budget and policy priorities. Additional topics of discussion will include a legislative update and the formation of a rules advisory committee. The main job of this committee will focus on developing regulations focused on all elements of the recreational marijuana market.