Oregon guv signs bill legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries


While medical marijuana dispensaries have existed in Oregon for a number of years, the shops are only just now state legal after Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed House Bill 3460 into law Wednesday creating a state-run licensing and regulatory system for the shops.

As we told you back in July, legislators were working on the issue because of the hodgepodge of municipal regulations for dispensaries were often not in harmony with one another. That has meant that police were often shutting down dispensaries in one city for not following state while other dispensaries were left alone in their legal gray area.
The state has more than 53,000 medical marijuana patients, and legislators wanted to ensure that patients that don’t have a caregiver or aren’t growing their own cannabis still had a safe and legal place to get their herb. Activists say the move does just that:
“A lot of people that can use medical marijuana just do not have safe access to it,” Brian Michaels, an attorney and member of the state Advisory Committee to medical marijuana, told KVAL in Oregon. “This not only benefits the health of sixty thousand citizens, benefits the civil rights of people to do what they need to do without having their door broken down or children taken, it also benefits Oregon financially.” l
The bill had some high-profile sponsors, including Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “These facilities have opened and continue to operate in Oregon without regulation or licensure,” she wrote. “These facilities operate in a climate of uncertain legality, and the absence of a clear regulator structure makes ensuring compliance with the law difficult.”
The new law does not create any new taxes and the program, though it would have to collect enough money in licensing fees to keep the department financially afloat. The bill also stipulates that cannabis sold at dispensaries must be tested for mold, mildew and pesticides.
State officials say that the nuts and bolts of the medical marijuana dispensary program won’t be in place until at least March 2014. In the meantime, dispensaries that are operating with local blessing can continue to do so.