IT'S 2016, and things are about to start getting REALLY good for cannabis enthusiasts. Sure, as of last October, those 21 and older could walk into an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program dispensary and purchase up to a quarter ounce of flower, seeds, or clones. And last year we held events where we could stand outside (or under a tent) and enjoy some twisted-up goodness. And right on to that.
Dispensaries that sell the full range of recreational adult-use cannabis products (concentrates, topicals, edibles, etc.) will be opening any day now, and parties are about to start going off where you can smoke indoors to your heart's content. What a great time to be alive!
Sorry to be Darryl Downer, but it's worth a closer look at when and how some of these things may come to pass—or possibly not.
When I have questions about what is up in the canna-universe, I call lawyer Amy Margolis. She heads up the Emerge Law Group (which arguably just helped complete more license applications for recreational cannabis than any other firm), and the Oregon Cannabis Association. She kindly answered my questions as she traveled down to Salem to live the dream: attending meetings in our state's capital.
MERCURY: Earlier this month, I went to a dispensary to pick up my quarter ounce of flower, and the price jumped from $70 to $87.50! WTF is going on?
AMY MARGOLIS: As part of the agreement last session around early sales of flower to the adult-use market, the Oregon Legislature instituted a 25 percent point-of-sale tax. That tax just applies to non-medical patients, however, and dispensaries are dealing with this in a variety of different ways. Some are offering discounts or absorbing part of the tax. Remember the tax will go down between five and eight percent once the OLCC [Oregon Liquor Control Commission] begins licensing dispensaries. Think of this as a kind of temporarily inflated tax until the end of 2016.
When are the recreational dispensaries opening?
The OLCC has said that they will start the licensing process for retailers in the third quarter of this year, and allow them to open sometime in the fourth quarter. By the time OLCC gets to retailers, they will be pros at this and I am expecting it to run smoothly.
So I have to wait 'til then to grab some canna lube, vape pen cartridges, cookies, and edibles?
There is a legislative concept for short session that would allow early sales of these types of products. We'll be pushing hard for this on behalf of the Oregon Cannabis Association. It's important for this to pass because the industry needs it, the consumers want it, and we now have the public safety regulations in place to protect everyone.
I keep hearing that the state has now banned all indoor consumption of cannabis, be it smoked or vaped. Am I going to get busted for smoking in my home? Isn't there some sort of private club, like cigar lovers have?
During the 2015 legislative session, the Indoor Clean Air Act was expanded to include cannabinoids. And the Indoor Clean Air Act interacts closely with Smokefree Workplace. Because of the expansion of the Indoor Clean Air Act, it is unlawful to operate a cannabis club. The Oregon Cannabis Association recognizes that people need a place to consume—imagine if you could only drink your evening appletini in your hall closet—and that the absence of a place to consume hurts patients and tourism, and drives people back underground. We're hoping that as we move toward the 2017 legislative session we can work on coming up with a reasonable solution. This is a complicated issue and requires input from all stakeholders to come up with an appropriate statutory modification.
So, what now? To quote the late, great James Brown, "Get involved, get into it." Next week, I'll explore how to effectively lobby our elected representatives on these and other canna measures. Which sounds boring as fuck, I KNOW. But now is the time to make your voice heard, and help create changes that benefit all enjoyers of cannabis. So grit your teeth and load your bong, because when the legislature meets next month, we speak up.