From bills seeking to change the marijuana legalization measure passed by Oregon voters to proposed limits on how many medical marijuana patients a doctor can see, pot is a big issue at the Legislature this year.
At least 16 marijuana-related bills were introduced Monday, when legislators were sworn into office, and many more are in the works.
“You can’t see the passage of something major like that and not think that you need to figure out how to manage it,” said Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, who has two bills aimed at cracking down on marijuana use by day-care providers.
Legislative leaders last month set up a special House-Senate committee on marijuana to look at how the state should implement Measure 91. Under the measure, possession of up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home will become legal on July 1, and retail sales will start in 2016 and be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
That gives the Legislature plenty of time to weigh in, with lawmakers already talking about such big-picture issues as whether to allow local taxes on marijuana (Measure 91 says only the state can levy taxes) and how strictly to limit the sales of marijuana-infused cookies and candies (91 leaves that up to the OLCC).
The first batch of bills shows legislators have plenty of other issues they want to bring to the table.
Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield, introduced a measure, House Bill 2636, that limits a physician to approving medical marijuana cards for no more than 450 patients.
Lively said he’s been disturbed that so few doctors are approving most of the patient requests for medical marijuana cards.
The Oregonian found in 2012 that just nine doctors had approved half of the 56,531 medical marijuana patients and applicants at the time.
“I’m honestly very much in favor of medical marijuana, but I’m not in favor of it being willy-nilly,” said Lively.
Doctors who approve most of the medical marijuana patients work through high-volume clinics, with the owners saying they are filling a need that most physicians won’t.
Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, has two bills that could severely limit sales of marijuana in the state. House Bill 2040 would prohibit retail sales within one mile of a school, and House Bill 2041 would allow localities to set up a one-mile exclusion zone around schools.
Smith could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but his bill would be a major step beyond the 1,000-foot exclusion zone for pot retailers included in Measure 91.
Geoff Sugerman, a lobbyist representing the marijuana industry, said that a one-mile zone “would certainly serve as a moratorium in some cities.”
Sugerman argued that Measure 91 already deals with this issue. It allows localities to opt out of marijuana sales if local voters choose to do so.
Here are other notable marijuana-related bills introduced this week:
PREGNANCY WARNING: Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, wants pot retailers and medical marijuana dispensaries to display warning signs for pregnant women.
Monnes Anderson, who introduced Senate Bill 445, said research indicates that use of marijuana by pregnant women could heighten health risks to their babies.
The University of California San Francisco Medical Center has this to say about marijuana use and pregnancy:
Although the effects of marijuana on an unborn baby are still unknown, studies have indicated that prenatal marijuana use is linked to premature births, small birth size, difficult or long labor and an increase in newborn jitteriness.
DAY-CARE PROVIDERS: Parrish is seeking House Bill 2781, which would prohibit state funds from going to day-care providers with medical marijuana cards.
She also introduced House Bill 2771, which requires drug testing of certain day-care providers. She said the bills stemmed from a 2014 KOIN TV report about two day-care providers in Salem with medical marijuana cards who smoked pot while children were at their facility.
HEMP FARMING: Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, introduced a measure, House Bill 2668, to remove the requirement that industrial hemp farmers get a permit from the state. The federal government now allows hemp cultivation for research purposes. The state Department of Agriculture is now drafting rules for permits, but some growers think the proposed rules are too restrictive.
BUTANE HASH OIL: Measure 91 prohibited home production of the powerful marijuana concentrate. In Senate Bill 464, Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, proposes extending the ban to medical marijuana users.
MARIJUANA RESEARCH: Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, has two bills setting up bodies to study medical marijuana and how best to serve patients. They are Senate Bill 479 and 480.
SCHOOL EXCLUSION ZONE: Sen. Doug Whitsett and his wife, Rep. Gail Whitsett, both R-Klamath Falls, introduced two measures — Senate Bills 124 and 164 — that would tighten penalties on selling or producing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES: Prozanski also introduced a measure, Senate Bill 460, that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to remain in place even if a school moves into the 1,000-foot exclusion zone. Prozanski said he doesn’t think it would be fair to drive a dispensary out of business in such a case.