Medical Marijuana in the Wake of Oregon Ballot Measure 74’s Failure

Oregon Ballot Measure 74 would have, among other things, permitted medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the state.  Such dispensaries currently exist in California and Colorado.  Fifty-eight percent of Oregon voters ultimately rejected Measure 74. While this means that dispensaries will not be moving in to vacant storefronts in Oregon any time soon, communities throughout the state continue to face various challenges under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (“OMMA”).  Two issues that Oregon local governments increasingly confront are: (1) groups of growers seeking to lease common space to grow marijuana for cardholders; and (2) groups seeking to establish medical marijuana clubs where growers and cardholders can exchange marijuana.  Once such club recently opened in Bend and another had operated in Portland but closed last spring.

The OMMA does not explicitly address either cooperative grows or so-called “cannabis clubs,” which leaves many communities asking whether and to what extent they can be regulated locally.  While the issue is still being researched and debated, the “growing” (bad-dum-bump) consensus is that the OMMA would not preempt local governments from regulating these ancillary effects of the OMMA.  Regulations may include limitations or prohibitions on cooperative grows and possibly licensing requirements for cannabis clubs.

At this point, Oregon communities should anticipate an increase in the number and variety of OMMA-related issues that they will face.  While it is likely that local governments in Oregon have some authority to regulate these issues, consultation with a city’s attorney or a county’s counsel is critical prior to establishing any such regulations.

We will continue to monitor such efforts and provide updates accordingly.