2018 Legislative Session and Proposed Concepts

It’s also that time of year again already where another legislative session is right around the corner.  This one, like every session we have here in Oregon during even numbered years, is a ‘short session’, which means it only runs about 35 days in total.

Not only that, but this will also be the first time since 2014 that there will NOT be a legislative committee designated specifically for handling cannabis policy.  That means we’ll be competing for bandwidth in the normal policy committees – against a great deal of other commercial and business interests looking to get their bills passed instead of ours.

There’s a lot that our association is planning to do to help educate additional lawmakers about the nuances of cannabis policy, and about how the work they do at the capitol impacts business owners in the industry.  While there’s many issues we are discussing with lawmakers as we proceed – hopefully sewing the seeds for a productive 2019 session – there are three main areas of policy where specific concepts have been at the fore of discussions about the upcoming short session:

  • Sampling – There’s currently a bill to allow the OLCC to issue special event licenses for industry events at which trade samples could be given away for free to attendees – to be consumed elsewhere, off-site, at a later time, of course. This effort is being spearheaded by Rep. Ken Helm and Rep. Julie Fahey, both of whom are alumni of the Joint Committee on Regulating Marijuana from last year, and could become major champions of our industry in the years to come.
  • Fixes to H.B. 2198 (Medical) – Another legislative concept involves some proposed changes to the medical marijuana program to allow single-grower gardens to grow for up to 8 patients once again, barring any local restrictions.  It also includes a number of other fixes to the medical marijuana program, the need for which arose after the passage of HB 2198 last year.  This effort is being led by State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who for decades now has probably been the single largest proponent in the legislature of Oregon’s medical marijuana program and the work it does to help patients.
  • PROPOSED TAX INCREASE – The most troubling proposal that we’ve seen circulating involves an effort to add a NEW tax on cannabis producers in certain, predominantly rural areas of the state for both MEDICAL AND ADULT-USE PRODUCERS – a tax per square foot of canopy for OLCC growers, and a per plant tax for medical growers.  This appears to be an effort mainly on the part of the Association of Oregon Counties – who represent the counties likely to collect the revenue from the proposal.  We’ll follow this closely as session begins, and will update our members should it move forward.

Given it’s limited duration, barring catastrophe it’s unlikely that we will see any other major legislative efforts mounted in 2018 – and some have speculated that not even the above-mentioned concepts will have the bandwidth needed to get through in time.

We’re going to be talking about these legislative concepts, where they are at in the process, and where they are likely to wind up, at our monthly meeting this coming Monday on Jan. 29th – so that’d be a great place to bring any questions you have.