I heard the local pot laws are changing yet again. Can you catch me up?
CERTAINLY. There were many changes in February's short legislative session, including some big ones. The new language came in four separate bills, each of which modifies existing Oregon pot law and becomes effective as soon as Governor Kate Brown signs it (which she may have done by the time you read this). I'll do my best to summarize the key changes in this cozy space.
House Bill 4014. This bill abolishes the requirement that Oregon pot businesses be majority owned and controlled by Oregonians. That's a big deal, because out-of-state money may come in like a wave. The idea here is that access to capital will help cash-starved startups more than it will hurt local bootstrappers. Note that HB 4014 is omnibus in scope: It also makes downward adjustments to some criminal penalties for cannabis shenanigans, slashes the cost of an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) card to just $20 for vets, and creates a pilot program to reduce weed smoking among the youth.
Senate Bill 1511. This is the "co-location" bill, which allows OMMP patients to purchase weed tax-free at recreational shops. Ostensibly, that changed because many medical patients were about to lose their growers, processors, and dispensaries to the recreational market. But there is also likely a big-picture play here, as the legislature continues to merge the medical and recreational programs (which should probably just happen already). The other big item in this bill is expansion of the early sales program at medical dispensaries. Very soon, you and your friends age 21-and-over will be allowed to buy topicals and "no more than one, single-serving low-dose unit" of extract or edible at the shop, daily. Mazel tov!
Senate Bill 1598. This one is a bit more technical and I will only hit the high notes. SB 1598 removes the requirement that the person responsible for a grow site acquire a land-use compatibility statement (LUCS) in certain instances. That is nice because in many cities and counties the LUCS is a pain. The bill also declares weed a farm crop for recreational growers and a few other parties, makes it easier for patients to pay their medical processors, and allows the Oregon Health Authority to inspect grow sites. Finally, SB 1598 has some charitable provisions for nonprofit medical dispensaries, so they can receive pot freely and give it away to people below the poverty line.
House Bill 4094. Last and probably least, this bill removes state criminal liability from banks and credit unions servicing Oregon pot accounts. These banks remain federally regulated, but the idea here is that the state is doing everything it can for local businesses, even if federal law is especially oppressive in this area. While HB 4094 could turn out to be mostly symbolic, it's cool that Oregon is the first state to take a run at pot banking laws, and could help inch forward the national agenda.