As we get closer to the November election and the potential (likely?) passage of Ballot Measure 91 in Oregon, the most common question we hear asked is, “what is recreational marijuana in Oregon going to look like?”. That question is almost always closely followed by people asking if the recreational licensing and implementation process is going to be like Washington’s I-502 process.

As one of two states with recreational cannabis use, Washington should be a leader in how to implement, and build, a legal cannabis market. But, it’s not. Here’s a pretty great article about some of the big issues. http://www.inlander.com/spokane/more-money-more-problems/Content?oid=2358747 

From problems with under-production to the creation of a new black market, Washington’s I-502 has been a marginally successful program. 

We recognize that every state will have it’s growing pains, but we are very hopeful that Oregon’s legal cannabis market will look and feel different. 

The Seattle Times, in this article http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024709004_oregonmarijuanameasurexml.html lays out some of the fundamental differences between the two states.

Here are a few of our predictions how Oregon will be different, and better:

1. Medical dispensaries in Oregon will be allowed to continue to operate and, if they choose, also get licensed to be recreational dispensaries.

2. Our taxes will be lower. I mean WAY lower. This will prevent the black market from regaining a foothold in Oregon.

3. Oregon will have learned from Washington and license cannabis cultivation facilities before new retail facilities.

4. We will not start from scratch for cultivation. This means that, hopefully, Oregon will allow an opportunity for cannabis cultivation facilities supplying the existing legal dispensary market to apply for a recreational license. This would ensure no lapse in cultivation.

5. We are very hopeful that the OLCC will not limit the number of licenses. Without limits a true free market cannabis economy can develop.

There has always been a rivalry between Washington and Oregon, Portland and Seattle, and, if Ballot Measure 91 passes, we are going to guess that Oregon is poised to be the leader in a sensible recreational cannabis market.


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As we are getting closer to the election, we at Emerge are closely following Ballot Measure 91. Ballot Measure 91 would essentially legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon. As a firm representing people in the cannabis industry we, of course, are keeping our fingers crossed that Ballot Measure 91 passes. In addition to doing what we can to help ensure this happens we are also closely watching what local governments are doing to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

After House Bill 3460 passed in 2013 creating legal marijuana facilities, municipalities stepped in and began imposing their own regulations. During the 2014 legislative session, Senate Bill 1531 allowed local jurisdictions to impose moratoriums on dispensaries with an expiration date in May 2015. What we saw was a huge number of cities and counties step in and impose those moratoriums. You can see the list here: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/mmj/Documents/SB1531%20Moratorium%20List.pdf

While 1531 has created a brief moratorium, some jurisdictions have gone into overdrive and created local rules banning dispensaries all together. In southern Oregon, the city of Cave Junction took a different position and instead filed a law suit against the Oregon Health Authority and the State of Oregon. This lawsuit specifically sought to address the conflict between state law and federal law. Noelle Crombie at the Oregonian discusses the case here: http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2014/10/medical_marijuana_in_oregon_co.html#incart_river

Avoiding that conflict, Josephine County Circuit Court Judge this week ruled in favor of the city and found that, since there was no specific language in House Bill 3460 disallowing cities and counties from banned marijuana facilities in Oregon, local government could do as they pleased.

This is clearly a blow to the medical marijuana community in Oregon and, as we edge closer to the moratorium expiration, we wonder if more local jurisdictions will attempt to impose permanent bans. However, it is important to note that Ballot Measure 91 DOES contain specific language directing local governments how they can impose a ban – it must be voted on by the people in that jurisdiction and they give up tax revenue. This may leave local jurisdictions in the nonsensical position of banning medical dispensaries serving truly sick people while recreational dispensaries open instead.

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New Brand & Website

Emerge Law Group is pleased to announce the launch of our new brand & website! Throughout our site you will find information about Emerge and our services as well as information on various laws and business practices.

Please get in touch with us with any questions! We can help you with all of your cannabis legal needs!

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