In just 7 days, the recreational model for marijuana sales will officially begin in Oregon. The liquor commission is crafting rules for the recreational marijuana industry, which will roll out late next year. Rules will apply to everything from how marijuana concentrates are produced to what pesticides can be used on cannabis during production.
Oregon Live Reports
Indoor marijuana growers producing for the recreational market would be capped at 10,000-square-foot facilities and outdoor growers would be limited to 2-acre parcels under one proposal being considered by a state-appointed committee looking at marijuana regulation.
Draft rules for grow sites, pesticide use, retail sales and the production of concentrates and marijuana-infused edibles were discussed Friday by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s rules advisory committee.
Though anyone 21 and older may buy up to a quarter-ounce of cannabis flowers, unlimited seeds and four plants from medical marijuana dispensaries starting Oct. 1, those purchases are part of Oregon’s early sales program, which is overseen by the Oregon Health Authority.
Separately, the liquor commission is crafting rules for the recreational marijuana industry, which will roll out late next year. Rules will apply to everything from how marijuana concentrates are produced to what pesticides can be used on cannabis during production.
The rules will be the subject of public hearings but not until sometime next year, said Steven Marks, executive director of the liquor commission.
Figuring out how large marijuana growing operations should be is a tricky task the commission, which is charged with overseeing the recreational industry. The state will not limit the number of licenses it issues to growers. Officials have said they don’t want giant farming operations and they want to make sure the rules don’t shut out small-scale growers.
They also have to consider how much supply the industry needs to meet demand.
Marks said the commission has heard repeatedly from Oregonians worried about large-scale marijuana companies squeezing out smaller producers.
“This isn’t a market just for big corporations,” Marks said. “It’s not a Philip Morris-type market. They want opportunity for access to the market so the upper canopy size limit defines that.”
Other issues discussed by the committee Friday:
— The use of pesticides on marijuana crops. The state will restrict the kinds of pesticides growers may use. Marks predicted growers will see some crop loss due to pest damage given that the approved “list is going to include pretty weak products.”
He said marijuana that fails a pesticide analysis will not be sold on the market and the state will not allow it to be processed into concentrates.
— Serving sizes of marijuana-infused edibles. Marks said the Oregon Health Authority, which is studying serving sizes and scientific issues related to marijuana, has recommended that single servings of edibles be limited to 5 milligrams of THC. A packaged product, say a chocolate bar, would be limited to a total of 50 milligrams of THC.
— Marijuana delivery services. Oregon will allow home delivery of marijuana to people 21 and older, setting it apart from Washington and Colorado. Draft rules state that a licensed retailer may deliver cannabis to a “primary residence” in Oregon.
As for grow site limits, whatever the commission settles on will likely be in place for at least the first year of the program as the state assesses production and demand, Marks said.
Brent Kenyon, a southern Oregon marijuana grower who proposed the canopy limits, said a 2-acre site could accommodate nearly 500 plants that yield between 2 to 5 pounds apiece. Kenyon sits on the advisory committee.
Kenyon said southern Oregon growers he’s spoken to support the 2-acre cap, which would mean they can still churn out an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 pounds per year.
“I think 2 acres is a reasonable size, not just for small family farms but for people who want to grow and be in dispensaries,” he said. “Two acres is a reasonable amount to get started with.”
But Kenyon’s proposal is considerably more generous than what lawmakers discussed earlier this year. Marks said the Legislature talked about setting indoor limits at 5,000 square feet and a half-acre for outdoor cultivation but ultimately left it to the commission to decide. Under the draft rules, only mature plants count as part of the canopy.
He said lawmakers “asked us to try to balance it and look at that future demand.”
“Right now we can’t balance it because we don’t know what the demand is and what the market looks like,” he said.
Marks said Kenyon’s proposal isn’t “necessarily what will be proposed in the rule, but we are listening to it.”
Though Kenyon’s proposal is more generous that the limits considered by lawmakers, some in the industry say it’s too restrictive.
Beau Whitney, chief operating officer of Greenpoint Oregon, which produces extracts for the medical marijuana market under the brands Golden XTRX and Proper Oil, said his company wants to grow its own cannabis for its products.
Oil producers like Greenpoint Oregon need lots of raw material to convert into concentrates and the proposed limits will force companies to continue to rely on a network of growers who may use pesticides.
He said this year’s russet mite infestation in southern Oregon is likely to lead growers to use pesticides, which will end up in hash oil.
“What many of the southern Oregon growers are doing is nuking their plants late in the game with pesticides in order to deal with this,” he said. “If we have really restrictive canopy limits, we will be forced to take that pesticide-laced trim in house in order to process it for our oils.”
Whitney, who does not sit on the rules advisory committee, said 10,000 square feet is an acceptable limit for the lowest tier license, but he wants to see other licenses for 50,000 square feet and 100,000 square feet “at the highest level.”
As for outdoor, Whitney would like to see 5-acre to 10-acre limits.
Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal, who sits on the advisory committee, questioned whether the liquor commission should set canopy limits at all. He said the commission should issue licenses; canopy limits should be set by local governments.
He said smaller canopy limits translate into more grow sites, which means more work for local governments and the liquor commission when it comes to enforcement.
If local governments have a say over the size of grow sites in their communities, they may be more willing to allow the industry to operate instead of ban it, said Breidenthal, who represents a county that sits in the heart of the state’s outdoor marijuana cultivation region.
“I would rather see a large grow on a 200-acre parcel than a dozen small grows on 1-acre parcels next to neighbors that are complaining constantly,” he said.
— Noelle Crombie