The state of Oregon is rich with history surrounding cannabis. After its longtime prohibition, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, a huge stepping stone in the massive cannabis industry we see today. In 1998, Oregon passed Ballot Measure 67, one of the first ballot measures in the country to legalize medical cannabis use in the state; and in 2014, the state’s voters passed Ballot Measure 91 to legalize recreational cannabis.
Since then, the cannabis industry in Oregon has grown substantially. And the recreational cannabis scene in Portland is robust. Let’s take a look at the legislative background in Portland, Oregon and how the city’s local government is working to make sure these Portland cannabis laws are working well and promoting a diverse and equitable state industry.
What’s New in Portland, OR?
Portland, Oregon has always had a bit of a wild side, known as a place for free spirits to visit and stay. There’s a reason why the city’s unofficial tagline is “Keep Portland Weird”. This culture lends itself well to recreational cannabis in Portland, OR.
Portland is a relatively progressive city and that same context applies to their oversight of cannabis laws in Portland, Oregon. The city’s Office of Community and Civic Life created a Cannabis Policy Oversight Team to provide “diverse stakeholder perspectives on cannabis-related public policies. It consists of cannabis industry representatives and others that possess an in-depth understanding of issues affecting and affected by the cannabis industry. The Body’s objective is to discuss and develop policies that support equitable access and outcomes for the cannabis industry, cannabis consumers, and all City of Portland residents.”
This oversight team is something unique and some stakeholders in the industry might argue it’s a good template to replicate in other cities and legal cannabis states. The CPOT is made up of members who live, work, and do business in Portland. Members must be advocates for racial equity and inclusion and have an informed perspective on regulated cannabis. Individuals appointed to this team are expected to serve two to three-year terms.
The oversight team looks over any rule or law changes in monthly meetings. They evaluate these changes based on their lens of equity and inclusion, as well as economic development.
Cannabis Trade & Distribution in Oregon
Oregon state’s cannabis trade and distribution policies have led to some big problems for cultivators in the state. The state has more than one thousand licensed recreational cannabis cultivators and roughly 900 more waiting for their license.
A study released in 2018 says there is roughly one licensed cultivator for every 19 consumers in Oregon. With so much supply, there’s simply not enough demand to keep prices high enough for cultivators. That same study also shows that only roughly 31% of legally cultivated cannabis was sold. As a result, prices have dropped 50% since 2016.
This supply and demand problem isn’t just an issue for cultivators who are downsizing and firing staff to stay afloat. The problem is also a big deal for state regulators and law enforcement, as well as the federal Department of Justice. With so much unsold cannabis, how much is being siphoned off to the black market to help recoup costs? The answer isn’t immediately apparent, but it is something state regulators will have to work quickly to fix.
Currently, there is a moratorium statewide on new cannabis licenses. Our cannabis attorneys in Oregon are available if you are interested in building a cannabis business but need help maneuvering this cannabis license freeze.
Medical Cannabis in Portland, OR
The laws in Portland, Oregon are the same as the medicinal cannabis laws statewide. The Oregon Health Authority is in charge of the state’s medical marijuana program and runs the application process for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMPP).
Medical cannabis patients and caregivers in Oregon can possess up to six marijuana plants, 18 seedlings, and 24 ounces of usable cannabis. According to the OMPP, each patient or caregiver can be in the possession of 4.5 to 7.5 pounds of cannabis, but not all of that will be usable.
An individual must have a qualifying medical condition to apply for the OMPP. These qualifying medical conditions for Oregon medical marijuana include:
- Degenerative or pervasive neurological condition
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- A medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that produces one or more of the following:
- Severe pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures, including but not limited to seizures caused by epilepsy
- Persistent muscle spasm, including but not limited to spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
If you have one of these qualifying conditions and have a medical cannabis recommendation from an attending physician, you can apply for a OMPP card. To do so, follow these steps:
- Apply for a card online on the OMPP’s New Patients page
- Pay the $200 application fee, or provide proof of need for a lower fee
- After your application is accepted, you will receive a receipt letter. This letter works as a temporary medicinal cannabis card for 30 days, until your official card arrives in the mail.
Recreational Cannabis Portland
Recreational cannabis laws in Portland are also the same as state laws. An adult (21 years or older) with valid identification can purchase legal cannabis from a licensed dispensary.
Here is a quick rundown of the laws in Portland and Oregon as a whole:
- An adult can possess up to one ounce of usable cannabis on their person in public and 8 ounces of usable cannabis at home
- Adults can grow up to four plants per residence (not per person in the residence)
- No public consumption of cannabis is allowed
- Driving under the influence of cannabis can result in a DUI
Derivative Products – Edibles, Oils, Hemp
You can also purchase a plethora of non-flower cannabis. This includes cannabis oil, edibles, beverages, and more. For these types of products, there are different possession limits:
- 16 ounces of a cannabinoid product in solid form
- 72 ounces of a cannabinoid product in liquid form
- Five grams of cannabinoid extracts or concentrates, whether sold alone or contained in an inhalant delivery system
Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is now legal in all 50 states. A person in Portland, Oregon can purchase hemp-based products locally or online and have them legally shipped.