Legalizing marijuana at any stage is tricky business – but I think Oregon is going about it in a very organized manner. First of all, I think we all love that they allowed recreational sales before any retail dispensaries are even open and allowed tax free sales until the first of the year.
So aside from the addition of the 25% tax on recreational sales, what else is changing in Oregon’s cannabis industry this year?
First of all, recreational marijuana is going to be turned over to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission at the end of the year. Which means that recreational sales will no longer take place in medical dispensaries after January 1st of 2017.
The reason for this? They wanted there to be a clear line between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. I think this is a great approach to it – after all, medical marijuana is the same herb, yes, but it is used for the purpose of healing or comfort rather than enjoyment therefore it should be treated as a medicine.
Another way the two will be differentiated is the fact that medicinal products like edibles can have a higher dosage based on patient needs, whereas recreational edibles will have a cap on how much THC is in the product and how much can be purchased each visit.
Applications for licenses in the recreational industry started being accepted on January 4th – for each sector of the industry the application fee was a standard $250, additional fees will be required when licenses are awarded.
Unlike Washington – which is running into issues with their cap on dispensaries – Oregon will offer unlimited licenses. They are also doing their best to ensure that everyone is able to get a license that wants it. Their application has a direct messaging system between the applicant and the investigator.
Ultimately, the idea behind the direct communication is that when mistakes are made or information is left out, the investigator can contact the applicant for the proper information rather than simply denying the application all together.
“We’re not expecting the application to be perfect. There’s going to be some trial and error,” he (Pettinger) said of the online system. “The application tool allows for private communication between the investigator and the applicant.”
Overall, I think this is an excellent start to what will eventually be a very well-regulated system for marijuana. The applications will be processed in order of the supply chain – so outdoor growers will be first, followed by indoor growers, processors, wholesalers and finally retail dispensaries.
Dispensaries should be approved by sometime in October of this year – and then they will begin phasing in as the recreational sales at medicinal shops phase out, eventually separating the two products entirely.
It’s going to be a big year of growth for Oregon’s marijuana industry – I hope everything continues to run as smoothly as it seems to have so far!