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Should Marijuana Business Ownership Be Limited to Oregon Residents?

Friday, November 13, 2015


As part of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission's rules and regulations regarding the sale of recreational marijuana, all marijuana businesses that operate in the state must be majority owned by a legal resident of Oregon, who has lived in the state for more than two years. Experts in the marijuana industry say the rule is unnecessarily restrictive and may be a social justice issue, and they are working to change it.

“I definitely think the residency requirements should be overturned,” Leah Maurer, co-chair of Portland’s Women Grow chapter, told GoLocal. “It limits the number of people that can get involved in this newly emerging industry and could really stifle some of the growth that we are hoping to see. To be honest, I even think it could be a social justice issue, because it hurts women and minorities.”

Oregon is not alone on this issue. In Colorado, businesses must also be majority owned by a state resident of more than two years, and in Washington, any owner must be a state resident, according to Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project. Fox said that generally, residency requirements are put in place to limit business owners to local residents, rather than large companies.

Rules Limit Growth

Maurer said that she believes that residency restrictions are problematic because they restrict growth in a quickly emerging and evolving industry in Oregon.

“It’s frustrating,” Maurer said of the residency rules. “The industry is really just beginning to grow and find itself but all this does is limit the amount of people that can get involved. The more marijuana businesses that can open and thrive, the more jobs the industry can provide, so I would love to see those rules overturned.”

Sam Chapman, a marijuana business lobbyist and consultant, agreed with Maurer. He said the issue is a “double-edged sword” for those that are looking to enter Oregon’s newest industry.

“Most good business people are concerned not only with their bottom line today, but what their bottom line is going to be five years from now or a decade from now,” Chapman said. “When you do that, you’re focused on capital to help your business expand and grow. Sometimes, that capital isn’t always available in-state so you have to go out of state. This limits how much capital you can take in from out of state and how much businesses can grow, because receiving capital is usually tied to ownership stake in the company.”

Amy Margolis, Director of the Oregon Cannabis Association, echoed Maurer and Chapman.

"The Oregon Cannabis Association has always opposed residency requirements," Margolis told GoLocal. "They will have the unintended effect of making it more difficult for small local businesses to attract investors."

Social Concerns

Margolis also said that she believes repealing the residency restrictions is more than an issue of dollars and cents. She claimed that the rules especially harm women and minority businesses owners.

"This also increases barriers faced by Oregon businesses owned by women, people of color, and others who have traditionally had limited access to capital," Margolis said.

Maurer said that the rules make it more difficult for minority-owned businesses to raise capital

“I think it is a social justice issue,” Maurer said. “It really hurts women and minority-owned businesses. Oftentimes, it can be harder for them to get money or loans through traditional sources and they may have to go to friends or relatives that live out of state, or investors are looking for a way into the market.”

Would Repeal Lead to Big Business?

Fox, with the Marijuana Policy Project, told GoLocal that most times, residency restrictions are put in place with big business in mind.

“In most cases the general impetus is trying to keep business small and local,” Fox said. “States typically are wary of a big business, in state or out of state, coming in and hurting local companies.”

Maurer said that while she would like to see the residency restrictions be repealed, she is concerned that big business could look to Oregon as an untapped market.

“I’m still a big advocate of keeping the industry local and in the hands of Oregonians,” Maurer said. “Even if the restrictions are lifted or loosened I would not want to see big corporations or holding companies be able to drive up profits and squeeze out smaller businesses.”

Chapman said that he supports measures to ensure that Oregon’s marijuana business stays local.

“I was a big supporter of the bill that allowed early sales of recreational marijuana at existing medical marijuana facilities beginning October 1,” Chapman said. “That was huge for small, local businesses. It helped a lot of them stay afloat, and those extra sales really helped. If we can find ways to do more like for our local businesses, I think that would be very important.”


Related Slideshow: 20 Things You Need to Know About Buying Pot in Oregon

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Employers Still Can—And Will—Drug Test

Many of the state’s largest employers, including Fred Meyer, Intel, Bi-Mart and Dairy Queen, will still test for marijuana, despite its new legal status. Companies that employ heavy equipment operators are required to buy insurance, and typically require drug testing.

Often, even companies that employ workers who operate machinery while simultaneously employing workers who do not will test, as the company will receive a lower monthly deductible if they test all of their employees across the board.

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Only a Quarter-Ounce per Customer, Please

Dispensaries will only be allowed to sell a quarter-ounce of marijuana per customer, per day. Residents are allowed different amounts for travel and home storage.

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Child Proof Packaging

Dispensaries, in addition to their limits on sales per person, also must package their recreational marijuana in a particular way. It must be placed in an opaque bag that is smell and child-proof.

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Can I Grow Cannabis at My House?

Those with a green thumb will be permitted to grow their own marijuana for private consumption. They are only allowed four plants per person, however, and each must be obscured from public view.

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How Much Can I Have at My House?    

Residents will be allowed to keep plenty of dry marijuana (flowers or leaves that are ready to be smoked) in their home. They are allowed to store eight ounces, more than thirty times the purchasing limits, in their home.

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How Much Can I Travel With?

Traveling restrictions are stricter than regulations for home storage. Adults are able to travel with up to one ounce, or four times the purchase limit, on their person.

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Driving Under the Influence

Unlike the Washington law, which included attached regulations concerning driving impairment, Oregon’s law has more room for interpretation. 

Driving under the influence of marijuana is classified as a Class B Traffic Violation, which carries a presumptive fine of $260 and is not to exceed maximum fine of $2,000. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has been tasked with researching the subject of drugged driving and presenting its finding to the Oregon Legislative Assembly no later than January 2017.

After reviewing the OLCC report, the state legislative assembly will decide whether passing more extensive driving regulations will be necessary.

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No Smoking in Public

Yes, marijuana is legal. No, that does not mean you can light up in the middle of the street. Consumption is only allowed out of the public view.

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Where will the New Tax Money Go?

Where will the tax money go?

Measure 91, the ballot measure passed last year that legalized marijuana in Oregon, stipulates that the tax revenue collected from recreational sales will be divided up in the following ways:

40 percent- Common School Fund
20 percent- Mental Health Alcoholism and Drug Services
15 percent- Oregon State Police
10 percent- Counties for enforcement of the measure
10 percent- Cities for enforcement of the measure
5 percent- Oregon Health Authority for drug abuse prevention

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Where You Can Buy Marijuana

Already licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell recreationally beginning on October 1, although not every dispensary will sell recreationally.

For a full list of those that have been approved to sell to the public, click here.

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Not Everywhere

While marijuana is now legal for recreational use in the state of Oregon, some individual communities have passed laws banning recreational marijuana facilities from opening. Consumption will still be legal in these areas, but sales will not.

For a full list of cities that have passed these bans, click here.

Photo: Downtown Baker City; via Wikimedia Commons

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What to Do at a Dispensary

First time at a dispensary? No worries, said Meghan Walstatter, Owner of Pure Green Dispensary. Just ask plenty of questions to staff to ease all of your concerns. 

Photo: Pure Green Dispensary

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Budtenders-Bartenders for Weed

Have questions as you make your purchase? No problem, just ask your friendly budtender. The cannabis industry’s answer to bartenders, budtenders are knowledgeable about the different strains and types of marijuana and their effects and are ready and eager to help novice smokers.

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Cannabis Indica

Indica, along with its sister sativa, are one of the two main types of cannabis. Each has their own unique effects on its user. Indica strains are known for relieving physical pain and giving users a sleepy, lethargic feeling.

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Cannabis Sativa

Sativa strains are the counter to indica strains.They are known for as a more mental stimulation, giving users more creative and sometimes, more focus

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The best of both worlds. At least, that’s what hybrids claim to be. They combine the properties of an indica strain and a sativa strain, by allowing users to feel relaxed, but not sleepy.

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Bring Cash

While some dispensaries do accept credit card, most do not, according to Leah Maurer, Co-chair of Women’s Grow. Make sure to bring some cash if you plan to purchase some cannabis today.

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How to Store your Cannabis

Concerned about storing your new marijuana in your home around your family? Maurer said to store it as you would alcohol or prescription drugs, away from the reach of children and teenagers.

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Don’t Cross State Lines

It will still be illegal to transport marijuana across state lines. That restriction even includes those crossing the Columbia River into Washington, where marijuana is also legal. Marijuana is classified as a Scheduled I controlled substance, meaning that anyone transporting it across line is prosecutable by Federal agencies

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Make Sure to Talk to Your Kids

It's likely that children and young adults will see more cannabis, and cannabis consumption, now that recreational sales have begun. Maurer said to make sure you have an honest, frank conversation about the benefits and consequences of the substance.


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