Ballot Measure 91: Joint Committee stalemate
Last night the Joint Committee for the Implementation of Ballot Measure 91 locked down. After working for almost the entire session on just medical marijuana regulations for Oregon, and not even getting to 91, they hit a wall. They did not lock down on plant numbers or tracking or any of the most controversial pieces. Instead, they simply could not reach a compromise on how a local jurisdiction could opt out of the program (this just would have applied to dispensaries and processors both options had grandfathering language).
Watching it play out last night was intense. Just like watching anything else when two parties are so close to each other, and they really, really were, the fact that there was not a middle ground was striking. In a perfect world we could create a system where local governments are compelled to participate in providing access to cannabis. In a perfect world there would be rolling ganja fields outside my door right now with no concern over police involvement or federal preemption. However we are very far away from that and legislators needed to make a decision on this issue for 844 to move.
Where are we now? Is this a good or bad outcome? It depends on who you are. These are the potential permutations of how this plays out:
– Between now and Wednesday they pull it together and come up with a compromise. Bill moves, Committee moves on to 91.
– Committee dissolves or is suspended. Instead of there being a Joint Committee there will be a Senate and House committee. Senate committee likely made up of same legislators, who passed 844 -24s unanimously, votes and the Senate votes in favor on the floor. Bill goes to Ways and Means where Rep. Buckley is the chair (who voted no last night along with other House dems) and 844 dies there.
– Same as above except that 844 does not die in Ways and Means and gets moved in some form or another. This would require serious involvement from Leadership.
– 844 gets tabled for now and the Committee starts working on 91. Seems very unlikely at this point but who knows.
– Nothing happens. Legislature can not agree on anything to do with cannabis. Nothing happens with medical. Nothing happens on 91.
Let’s explore this for a second- here’s what that might look like. OHA and Governor’s office steps in and regulates medical program. OHA has asked for 10.6 million dollars already to do this. OHA is free to do whatever they want with regulation that does not violate existing statutory language. This may mean seed to sale tracking, inspections and local government regulation. Both Governor’s office and Saxton have said they support these types of regulations. Or, OHA does not nothing, Governor’s office does nothing. Medical program stays exactly the same.
For 91, it means that OLCC has ultimate decision making power. There are zero statutory guidelines other than what is in the four corners of the ballot measure. There would be no residency requirement, no adjustment to where tax is collected, none of the technical fixes requested by OLCC, no research license or lab license. We duke it out city by city, county by county on issues of land use, zoning and local ordinances meant to be so prohibitive that they act almost like a ban.
– Nothing happens with OMMP but Legislature addresses 91 through an already drafted omnibus bill. Issues mentioned above get addressed. Legislature comes back in 2016 or 2017 to look at medical program. Or not.
– It seems possible that they could start over with a new medical bill. This is the most remote possibility but, who knows, maybe whatever is the most crazy and unlikely will happen.
We shall stay tuned and see what happens in the next few weeks of the legislative session. There is very little precedent for a committee dissolving like this. Certainly watching this has reminded me over and over again of the quote, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” Couldn’t be more true than right now.