Pot panel approves new restrictions for Oregon medical marijuana
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon Senate special committee unanimously passed legislation on Monday imposing a variety of new restrictions on medical marijuana, a week after a joint committee overseeing the state's marijuana rules stalled on a similar measure.
The Senate Special Committee on Implementing Measure 91 passed a proposal tightening regulations on the medical marijuana industry, such as limiting the number of plants growers can have, building an inventory tracking system for growers, processors and dispensaries, inspection requirements and an Oregon residency requirement.
Lawmakers say the lengthy set of new restrictions is necessary so the recreational program can pass muster with federal authorities.
The move comes a week after an Oregon House-Senate committee in charge of implementing the state's new marijuana rules reached an impasse on a bill aimed at stemming the flow of pot to the black market.
Committee members agreed on most issues except for one: the question of whether local governments could ban medical marijuana dispensaries or other pot facilities within their jurisdictions.
Senate lawmakers on the joint committee wanted local governments to have the power to ban the dispensaries while still giving citizens the ability to gather signatures and put the issue to a ballot if they opposed the ban.
But three House members on the committee opposed local governments being able to "opt out" of medical marijuana facilities, saying people who use marijuana for medical purposes need to have access to their treatments.
The joint committee deadlocked on the issue, causing Senate President Peter Courtney to name the five senators who sat on the committee to a Senate-only special committee last week.
Marijuana advocates said creation of the new panel was an extraordinary move in order to bypass House members' objections.
"That's problematic for the Measure 91 campaign, because under Measure 91 cities and counties can only ban state regulated marijuana facilities, marijuana businesses, with a vote of the people. And so now we have a conflict between medical marijuana and what's going to be legal under Measure 91," said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of Measure 91, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana.
The bill passed the committee on a 5-0 vote. It now heads to the Senate floor.
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Coming up tonight at 11 on KATU News: KATU's Reed Andrews will have a report on a bill that looks to restrict energy usage by marijuana growers so that the state's grid doesn't get overloaded.