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Oregon readies to legalize retail medicinal marijuana following passage of House bill

Saturday, August 03, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Oregon, medicinal marijuana, dispensaries


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(NaturalNews) The state of Oregon is about to join the ranks of about a dozen other states that have defied the federal government's onerous prohibitions on marijuana by allowing it to be sold in state-sanctioned retail stores for medicinal use. According to new reports, the Oregon House recently passed H.B. 3460, a bill that would establish a network of state-regulated businesses that can sell medical marijuana at the retail level, which means that a signature from Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is all that is now needed to make the bill law.

H.B. 3460 provisions the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to establish a registry of medical marijuana facilities that will eventually be set up around the state for retail distribution of both "usable" marijuana and "immature" marijuana plants. According to The Oregonian, designated medicinal marijuana cardholders would be allowed to purchase marijuana directly from these shops rather than have to grow it themselves or have someone else grow it for them, which is what the law currently requires.

Many medical marijuana users are reportedly ecstatic about the bill's passage in the House, as Oregon voters have twice rejected earlier ballot initiatives that would have established a similar regulatory framework for marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. The new law will not only make it easier for marijuana patients to access the plant, but will also help deter the diversion of medicinal marijuana onto the black market, which some say has become problematic.

"Medical marijuana is here, it isn't going anywhere, dispensaries are needed, and they need to be regulated," wrote one OregonLive.com commenter about the bill. "The time for debating about marijuana is really over, the decision has been made, it's time to do it right."

Regulators expect to register about 225 medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon during first two years

According to the bill itself, OHA will have until March 2014 to iron out the details for a draft ruling on how the registry will be developed. Existing medical marijuana clubs and collectives will not necessarily be put under the jurisdiction of the state, but OHA will likely require them to be later on down the road. Dispensaries will also be subject to random OHA inspections to ensure they are following the rules.

Registration costs are expected to be set at $4,000 per year per dispensary, which will generate roughly $900,000 in the first two years. This money will reportedly be used to cover the costs of staffing and other expenses. Registered facilities will also be required to be spaced at least 1,000 feet from schools and other facilities, and not be in the same location as a medical marijuana grow site.

At the same time, local municipalities are free under the bill to establish their own guidelines and ordinances for the placement and concentration of medical marijuana facilities. The League of Oregon Cities, which endorsed the bill, claims local communities will have options when it comes to how medical marijuana dispensaries are established.

For a full rundown of H.B. 3460, visit:
http://www.oregonlive.com

Sources for this article include:

http://www.oregonlive.com

http://www.boiseweekly.com

http://www.komonews.com

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