I wasn't planning to write about the Joint Committee on Implementing M91, but I find myself drawn towards sharing what occurred this week in the committee. An impasse occurred. One of the dilemmas we faced before tackling the implementation of M-91 was to address the black market and the excess marijuana that is grown through the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA). If we didn't fix this problem, then there was little hope that the recreational side would be successful.
Two years ago during the 2013 session, I stood opposing HB 3460 which created the dispensary model for medical marijuana. I shared on the House floor that Oregon was a pipeline to 13 other states. One year later, during the 2014 short session, the legislature passed SB 1531 which fixed several problems from HB 3460 and created a moratorium for city and county governments to opt-out from allowing a dispensary from opening in their respective communities. There were a total of 132 city/county governments that chose to ban dispensaries. Well...that moratorium ended May 1, 2015! Thus, one of the major obstacles of the impasse.
The committee is made up of three Democrats each from the Senate and the House, along with two Republicans on each side for a total of ten members. In order for any policy to pass from the committee, a majority from each side must occur. This last Monday evening, the dash 24 amendments which allowed local governments to opt-out of the dispensary model of OMMA went down in flames.
Last month, in the Hello L.O. newsletter, the Mayor of Lake Oswego, Kent Studebaker wrote an article about marijuana and how the city should address the issue. You should know that Mayor Studebaker and the city council chose to ban dispensaries in their city.
"As the issues involving marijuana use have developed over the past couple of years, I have had some concerns about how the City should address its use. These concerns were reinforced recently when I attended a trial in which the effects of marijuana use were central to the case. I thought I would share some of what I learned. The information presented came from a doctor of psychology and from a doctor of psychiatry who was also a doctor of pharmacology." Click here to read the full article with four supporting points.
The Senate chose to split away from the joint committee in order to pass SB 964 which provides the opt-out provision and several other things which I totally agree with. It is the first time in my 11 years in this building that I have witnessed an impasse like this and then followed with a split.
I believe Oregonians want to see three key factors used by the legislators in Salem as they move forward making new laws and balancing the budget:
Whatever is proposed, common sense is used
That those proposals are reasonable and are considerate of the whole, and
There is a synergy implored; a working together.
I know I'm not alone when I say that I'm disappointed with the committee's progress. As we enter into the ending points of session, I hope the committee can work together to best implement M91.