When the State legalized the use and limited distribution of marijuana for medical purposes, patients were immediately faced with the question of how to get their marijuana. Persons with a medical marijuana (MM) card are allowed to grow their own plants or appoint a designated grower, but according to the Oregon Department of Justice, anywhere from 150-200 dispensaries or “pharmacies” are in operation serving the needs of MM patients who are unwilling or unable to grow their own plants or find someone to do it for them. Up until now, the dispensaries/pharmacies have operated under exiguous state regulation, which has led to diversion to the black market and other misuses. HB 3460 requires the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, and creates a registry of businesses that sell medical marijuana. The registry will be available to law enforcement agencies. HB 3460 sets forth some initial regulations by prohibiting dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school or another dispensary, requiring robust security measures, allowing only MM card carriers or their registered caregivers to enter the premises, and giving OHA the authority to draft additional rules to implement the bill.
Under the new legislation, cities retain the ability to regulate dispensaries beyond what is contained in the bill, thereby reflecting local needs. For example, cities may impose additional regulations pertaining to siting. Cities are, however, encouraged to work closely with the lawyers here at BEH to draft such regulations, as legal challenges will likely arise.
This topic will continue to develop as the state and localities navigate through somewhat murky territory. We will keep you posted on any developments, and as always, feel free to contact our office with any questions you might have.