The Oregon cannabis system has certainly had its share of successes. Most importantly, people are no longer subjected to unnecessary arrests and citations for using and cultivating personal amounts of cannabis. Also, victims of unjust cannabis laws now have the opportunity to expunge past offenses off of their records. Oh, and the state has generated tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue from a burgeoning industry that has created thousands of new jobs.

However, ask medical cannabis grower in Oregon, and they will agree – navigating the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) has become more burdensome, with more tracking regulations, inspections and fees. Now, the governing body over OMMP, Oregon Health Authority (OHA), has notified all medical growers in the state of impending changes in compliance and reporting, including increased fees (and migraines). Most heartbreaking, these new hurdles and costs are leading to many growers to stop cultivating for sick and disabled patients.

Now, OMMP growers must notify the state on their intentions by December 1st: whether they want to only grow a maximum number of 12 plants, cultivate more than 12 or transition to the recreational system. Medical growers that want to have more than 12 mature plants at their grow site must also pay an additional fee of $480 to cover the cost of the state’s tracking system.

Anthony Johnson breaks down some details about the new rules:

“Some important things to pay attention to. First of all, as the latest OHA update makes clear, the $480 CTS fee is NOT due by December 1st. The state needs time to set up the system for all of the OMMP cardholders first. Tentatively, OHA has stated that OMMP participants will need to sign up with CTS and pay the fee by July 1, 2018. The fee is a yearly fee and should be pro-rated, so it shouldn’t cost a full $480 to comply with the requirement for the rest of your licensed year.

“Also, if you wish to remain a patient, you can still grow more than 12 plants at your qualified residence, so long as you, or your caregiver, are NOT registered as the grower for your grow site at your home. I explained how patients can properly set up their grow site to continue to cultivate more than 12 total mature plants in a previous blog. It can be costly changing around OMMP paperwork, but thankfully, the state is waiving change and grow site fees for qualified growers until the first of the year.

“Finally, and most importantly, none of the rules and regulations that are imposing unnecessary burdens on growers, mom-and-pop businesses and patients, are set in stone. We have the opportunity to change laws and amend rules in the coming months and years. State Senator Floyd Prozanski, the strongest ally of the medical cannabis community, will be taking questions at the upcoming Oregon Marijuana Business Conference in Ashland on November 19th.”

Fighting for improved cannabis policies is nothing new for the Oregon activist community. While it can be extremely frustrating to take a step back on medical while the state takes two steps forward to tax recreational sales, we should never forget the fight for social justice and equitable business practices will always remain an ongoing struggle. The patient community is counting on us. Let’s keep up the fight.

Oregon activists and entrepreneurs should stay informed and continue to organize for better cannabis policies at the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference this November 19th in beautiful Ashland. Keep up with the latest in global cannabis policies and changes at the International Cannabis Business Conference. Next stop, Kauai, Hawaii on December 1-3, 2017, followed by San Francisco, Berlin, and Vancouver, B.C. Get your tickets today!