Cannabis Law

Dispensary owner Joe Polder weighs out cannabis for a customer Wednesday at Coastal Highways in North Bend.

COOS COUNTY – After discovering suspicious marijuana purchasing activities statewide, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission enacted a temporary rule in August prompting dispensaries to immediately limit the amount of marijuana it could sell to medical cardholders.

Cannabis on a scale at Coastal Highways in North Bend. A bill approved by Coos County Commissioners is moving toward the house that would allo…

The new rule now mandates that recreational dispensaries cannot sell more than an ounce to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cardholders. Before, cardholders were allowed to buy up to 24 ounces a day.

The change came when a state tracking system, run earlier this summer, revealed a few medical cardholders buying large amounts of marijuana on consecutive days. According to a press release by OLCC, the temporary rule was put into place to prevent any potential sales of marijuana in an illegal market.  

“The Cannabis Tracking System worked as it should enabling us to uncover this suspicious activity,” said Steven Marks, OLCC Executive Director in the press release. “When we detect possible illegal activity we need to take immediate steps to deter it from happening further, and that’s why the Commission moved quickly.”

In 1998, the Oregon legislature passed a law allowing for the sale, cultivation and possession of medical marijuana to approved cardholders. The application process for obtaining a medical card would be granted if a patient had met the following guidelines: possessed both a qualifying medical condition and a recommendation from an attending physician, and provided proper identification, a completed written application and paid its fees.

Sandy Ambrosini, owner of Left Coast Business Service, partners up with Southern Oregon Alternative Medicine once a month to host a medical marijuana clinic out of the Red Lion Hotel in Coos Bay. The clinic offers a paid consultation with a licensed medical physician to examine patients and determine if they meet OMMP’s standards to receive a medical marijuana card.

“We usually set up appointments to make sure patients have the necessary paperwork before we even do the exams,” Ambrosini said. “Most of the people who come get cards are debilitatingly ill.”

According to a July 2018 statistical report conducted by the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees OMMP, there are over 39,000 registered medical marijuana patients throughout the state. For Coos County, there are approximately 586 patients registered.

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In August, Ambrosini said they received 35 patients and for its upcoming October event has only secured about seven appointments. Qualifying medical conditions could range from cancer patients to those seeking treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Oregon Health Authority’s lead communication officer Jonathan Modie said the new rule only applies to those cardholders who buy at recreational dispensaries. For those entering a registered OMMP medical marijuana dispensary, the limit has not changed.

Throughout the state there appears to be only five medical marijuana dispensaries, which are in Washington, Union, Clackamas and Klamath counties.

Owner of Coastal Highways in North Bend, Joe Polder, told The World of the numerous complaints and negative feedback he has received since the new rule went into effect.

“The limit just kind of came out of nowhere,” Polder said. “I have customers from all over who usually load up on four or five ounces because they could only get to town once a month for their medicine. Sometimes they are on fixed income or retirees who find it hard to get here.”

While Polder agrees the state should take precautions to avoid illegal transactions, he also believes the change was drastic and should be reversed. He also mentioned that many of his customers use the larger quantities to transform the usable marijuana flower into other forms of applications such as oils, butter or various edibles.

The temporary rule, enacted on Aug. 24, is set to expire in six months. Following the completion of a state-led investigation, it could be modified or rescinded.

“The rules are always going to change,” Polder said. “This industry is always changing and you can’t please everybody, so they are doing what they can.”

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