Oregon stands as a vanguard of progressive marijuana legalization within the United States. The state has embraced both recreational and medical marijuana use, fostering a thriving cannabis industry. Nonetheless, Oregon’s cannabis landscape is not without its rules and regulations. In this article, we delve into the developments and modifications set to shape Oregon’s cannabis laws in 2023.
Recreational Marijuana in Oregon
In 2014, Oregon marked a historic moment when it legalized recreational marijuana through a ballot measure endorsed by 56% of voters. Subsequently, adults aged 21 and above gained the privilege to purchase, possess, and consume marijuana for personal use. Additionally, individuals can cultivate up to four plants within their households, ensuring they remain discreetly out of public view.
Regarding public possession, the legal cap stands at one ounce of marijuana flower, one ounce of cannabis concentrate, 16 ounces of infused edibles, and 72 ounces of infused beverages. However, within the confines of one’s residence, users can hold up to eight ounces of flower, as well as the same quantity of other cannabis products.
Licensed dispensaries are the authorized purveyors of recreational marijuana, subject to regulation by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC). The OLCC plays a pivotal role in setting the benchmarks for cannabis product testing, packaging, labeling, and tracking, along with stipulating licensing fees and taxes. A 17% sales tax is imposed on recreational marijuana at the state level, with local governments granted the prerogative to add an additional 3%.
The OLCC enforces the guidelines for the consumption and advertising of recreational marijuana. Consuming cannabis in public spaces, such as parks, sidewalks, schools, and workplaces, is prohibited. Driving under the influence of marijuana is also illegal, with penalties ranging from fines to potential incarceration, contingent on the degree of impairment and prior convictions.
Furthermore, the OLCC mandates that all advertising must refrain from being false, misleading, or appealing to minors. The use of certain words, symbols, or images linked with the medical application of marijuana, like “cure” or “heal,” is also restricted.
Medical Marijuana in Oregon
Oregon pioneered the legalization of medical marijuana in 1998, following a ballot measure that garnered 55% voter approval. Since then, individuals with qualifying medical conditions have had the opportunity to obtain a medical marijuana card from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). This card permits the purchase, possession, and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, allowing patients to designate a caregiver or grower to aid them in meeting their medical needs.
Qualifying medical conditions encompass cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, and muscle spasms. Patients can also petition the OHA to expand the list of eligible conditions.
Medical marijuana patients can possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana flower, irrespective of their location (public or at home), and an equivalent quantity of other cannabis products as recreational consumers. They are exempt from the state sales tax, and they can procure more potent products than recreational users.
Patients and their designated growers can cultivate up to six plants per individual or up to 12 plants per household after registration with the OHA. In cases where a grower serves multiple patients, they can cultivate up to 48 plants for a maximum of four patients. However, they must register with the OLCC and are obligated to pay a 10% tax on their sales, with the capacity to sell up to 20 pounds of surplus marijuana to licensed dispensaries annually.
In terms of compliance, medical marijuana patients and growers must adhere to the same regulations as recreational users and producers. Cardholders must renew their cards and registrations annually, coupled with the associated fees.
Changes Coming to Oregon Cannabis Laws in 2023
The year 2023 heralds changes in Oregon’s cannabis laws, driven by both new regulations instituted by the OLCC and legislative reforms. These modifications span across recreational and medical marijuana usage, as well as the production and sale of cannabis products.
Key changes encompass:
On-Site Delivery for Recreational Marijuana: Commencing January 1, 2023, Oregon will introduce on-site delivery for recreational marijuana. This allows consumers to place online or phone orders and retrieve their purchases from walk-up or drive-up dispensary windows. Nevertheless, minors may not be present in the vehicle during delivery unless they hold a medical marijuana card or are accompanied by a parent or guardian possessing one.
Loosening of Discount Restrictions: Restrictions on discounts and promotions for recreational marijuana are set to be relaxed. Dispensaries can offer reduced prices or free samples to customers, as long as they are not contingent on the purchase of other items. However, discounts based on the purchase of non-marijuana items, such as empty jars or accessories, remain prohibited.
Expansion of Audit Testing: Audit testing for both recreational and medical marijuana is set to expand. The OLCC will conduct random sampling of cannabis products from dispensaries and producers, subjecting them to retesting for potency, contaminants, and compliance with labeling and packaging standards. These samples will be retained for 30 days in case of disputes or appeals.
Special Work Permits for Cannabis Testing Lab Personnel: Individuals working in cannabis testing labs will be required to obtain special work permits from the OLCC. These permits must be renewed every five years and entail background checks and mandatory training courses.
Incorporation of Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids: Hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBG, or CBN, can now be integrated into both recreational and medical marijuana products, provided they originate from hemp grown in Oregon or a state with an approved federal hemp program. However, the usage of synthetic cannabinoids, like delta-8 THC, is prohibited, unless they are derived from marijuana and adhere to OLCC regulations.
Oregon continues to lead the way in marijuana legalization, consistently adapting and refining its cannabis laws to accommodate the preferences and needs of consumers and producers. With legal access to both recreational and medical marijuana, the state provides an array of products and services to cater to various tastes and requirements. Nonetheless, it is essential for those wishing to partake in marijuana in Oregon to remain well-informed about existing and forthcoming laws and to consume responsibly.