House Bill 2198 will allow Oregon Medical Marijuana Program growers supply up to 20 pounds of excess cannabis into the OLCC market. New Approach Oregon supports HB 2198 because it will benefit small farmers, patients, consumers, the cannabis industry and the entire state of Oregon. This common sense bill will help OMMP growers, many of whom have been priced out of the commercial system due to costs and regulations, continue to provide for sick and disabled patients.

By bringing more marijuana into the licensed and regulated system, prices should be kept low for patients and consumers, allowing licensed stores to compete more effectively with the illegal market. The entire state will benefit from HB 2198 as it will ultimately increase tax revenue, help create jobs and our state will be less likely to feel the brunt of federal enforcement if it passes.

Public Testimony Supporting House Bill 2198

Co-chairs Hayward and Rayfield, members of the committee:

As director of New Approach Oregon, the political action committee responsible for the Measure 91 cannabis legalization law, I am writing to encourage you to pass House Bill 2198. This common sense bill will ultimately increase revenue to the state by bringing medical growers into the regulated and taxed OLCC system. Over 56% of Oregon voters supported the M91 effort that campaigned on the notion that the state should bring as much marijuana as possible into the regulated and taxed system; HB 2198 helps achieve this important goal.

More medical growers coming into the OLCC market will not only bring more revenue into the state’s coffers, but it will also create jobs and help secure the long-term viability of the regulated and taxed marijuana system by helping ensure that more marijuana avoids the illegal market. The small farmers that will benefit from HB 2198 will be able to continue to help sick patients and put more money back into our state’s economy. House Bill 2198 is a win-win-win-win for patients, consumers, businesses and the entire state of Oregon. Please pass this sensible bill.

I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have about this bill and the potential impact upon our regulated marijuana system.

Respectfully,

Anthony Johnson

NAO Director & Measure 91 Chief Petitioner

Sign the Petition urging Donald Trump to Respect States’ Cannabis Laws!

Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer sent shockwaves across the cannabis community today by stating that the Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department may crack down more on recreational marijuana across the nation. Spicer reiterated that the Trump Administration supports states’ rights on medical cannabis, but didn’t guarantee that adult-use providers would receive the same pledge of federal non-interference. During the campaign, Trump seemed to adhere to a states’ rights position on cannabis laws and longtime advocate Aaron Houston has started a “We the People” White House Petition titled, “Keep your campaign pledge to respect state marijuana laws.”

Please sign the petition and spread the word to friends and family. 

Personally, while not pleased with Spicer’s comments, I’m not as alarmed as many others are, just yet anyway. Spicer statements could mean a lot of things. Let’s look at the most important statements.

When asked, “Is the federal government going to take some sort of action around this recreational marijuana in some of these states?”

Spicer answers, “I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.” He then goes on to say that he thinks the Justice Department will be “further looking into” recreational use.

The Justice Department “looking into” recreational use and taking “some sort of action” could be simply that the federal government will scrutinize states’ adherence to the Obama Cole Memo further to ensure that states are doing what they can to minimize illegal trafficking, maintaining safe highways and taking necessary precautions to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors. Businesses found violating state regulations could potentially suffer federal charges as well, particularly if they are caught selling to those under 21. This panic could be much ado about nothing.

However, we must be vigilant and it doesn’t hurt to take action to ensure that the federal government doesn’t even think about going through with the worst case scenario of trampling the will of the voters by arresting and prosecuting cannabis providers complying with state law. With a strong majority wanting the federal government to respect states’ marijuana laws, we are in a very strong position to push back on federal interference. But we must make our voices heard.

Please sign the “Keep your campaign pledge to respect state marijuana legalization laws” petition!

(This post by Director Anthony Johnson was originally published at www.WeedNews.co)

Poll: Oregonians strongly support reducing drug sentences

New bill would do just that; press event 11 a.m. today in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon voters overwhelmingly support a proposal to reduce penalties for drug possession, according to a new poll.

The poll comes as a new bill, supported by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon (ACLU of Oregon,) would change small-scale drug possession to a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Press event today: 11 a.m.
Fourth Dimension Recovery Center: 3807 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212
Large visuals explaining the poll in more detail
Interviews with people who’s lives have been impacted
Briefing about the poll, the new bill, Q&A

“The war on drugs has failed,” said David Rogers, the executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “It has damaged families and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. A felony conviction for small-scale drug use is too harsh because it ruins people’s lives. Oregonians are ready for a smarter approach. This bill is our chance to win one, and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure it passes.”

The poll also found that Oregonians were more likely to vote for both a district attorney or a sheriff  who is reform minded. Nearly two out of three Oregonians know someone who has struggled with drug addiction.
The poll was conducted by GBA Strategies, a nonpartisan public opinion research firm with deep experience on public opinion research about criminal justice, through live interviews, via phone and cell phone, using a probability sample of 600 registered Oregon voters, between Jan. 26 to 29. The answers provided reflect the entire population sampled. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence interval.

Make your voice heard to the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization by emailing: jmr.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov.

Public Testimony Regarding Oregon Senate Bill 307

Madame Co-chairs and members of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization:

Thank you all for helping implement regulated cannabis commerce in Oregon. With the creation of thousands of new jobs and the generation of millions of dollars in new revenue, we have created a regulated system that Oregonians can be proud of and is in line with the Measure 91 campaign supported by 56% of voters. While there is still work to be done, particularly in ensuring safe access to low-income patients and providing economic opportunities to small farmers and businesses across the entire state, legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana is working in Oregon.

Licensing regulated establishments, where responsible adults can legally and safely use cannabis with other responsible adults, in localities that have approved of the licensed activity, is another sensible common sense step in the right direction. We urge you to pass Senate Bill 307, a pragmatic proposal that will create jobs, generate revenue and benefit our economy. If passed, SB 307 should also reduce the number of people smoking marijuana in public view as well.

In addition to the economic benefit of more licensed marijuana business activity, there are compassionate reasons to support licensed cannabis consumption establishments as well. Many low-income patients struggling through poverty and severe and debilitating medical conditions live in housing that prohibits cannabis use inside. The allowance of OLCC-regulated cannabis consumption establishments will benefit patients that are forced to either stop using their medicine or to violate the law by smoking in public.

Senate Bill 307, by requiring local approval first, is a limited and rather conservative measure that provides for extreme local control. New Approach Oregon also supports Senate Bill 788, a broader measure that allows localities to opt-out of social consumption licenses, giving localities the ability to implement the proper policies for their communities. Unfortunately, SB 788 hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing yet, but if considered, the proposal is also a positive bill.

Thank you so much for considering the ability of cities and counties to allow the licensed and regulated social consumption of cannabis. I look forward to discussing this issue, and other marijuana policy proposals, with you further.

Respectfully,

Anthony Johnson

Director, New Approach Oregon

Public Testimony Regarding Senate Bill 302

Madame Co-chairs and members of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization:

Thank you for helping usher in an era of smart-on-crime policies that have benefited your constituents and our entire state. Great work has already been done to remove harmful criminal penalties that have disproportionately hurt people of color and citizens battling through poverty.

Whether you have the goal of making Oregon a model for the rest of the country or not, we are. The expungement provision passed by the Oregon Legislature set the table for California to enact a similar provision last November and was the inspiration for a proposed federal bill. We can expect more states to follow Oregon’s lead in both legalizing cannabis and retroactively allowing the expungement of old marijuana offenses in the coming years, greatly benefitting many people’s lives. We hope that you are as proud of this important work as we are.

Senate Bill 302 has some good provisions that continue Oregon’s trend of being smart-on-crime, mainly removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances. This is a policy that is long overdue and will hopefully be copied by other states, and eventually, the federal government. Once again, Oregon is helping lead the way.

However SB 302 provides for some unnecessary criminal penalties that New Approach Oregon opposes. We have moved forward positively on cannabis laws and there is no reason to move back towards more harmful felonies. Oregonians voted to regulate marijuana like alcohol and alcohol offenses do not include a wide array of felonies.

Marijuana felonies that can include prison time and have to be worn like a scarlet letter, depriving nonviolent people of many employment and housing opportunities, are not beneficial to our society. If marijuana offenders can’t get a job they will only be pushed deeper into criminal behavior and everyday Oregonians will foot the bill and suffer the consequences.

While there could potentially be a middle ground on punishing repeat offenders, Class A misdemeanors are adequate when minors and public safety aren’t involved. On that end, we don’t oppose felonizing the sale of marijuana to minors under the age of 18 and the felony crime of arson that occurs from unlicensed extraction explosions.

Senate Bill 302 has the potential to continue our movement in the right direction on cannabis polices. We urge you to remove unnecessary penalties from the bill and thank you for the opportunity to discuss the issue with you further.

Respectfully,

Anthony Johnson

Director, New Approach Oregon


What’s Next

As the Oregon Legislature and Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) implements Measure 91, New Approach Oregon has been monitoring the process and working to protect what Oregonian’s voted for. Learn More