OUR NON PROFIT IS RUN BY VOLUNTEERS AND WE NEED HELP PAYING FOR BILLBOARDS, YARD SIGNS AND OTHER MARKETING TO HELP DEFEAT THE LOCAL BAN AND GET THE WORD OUT TO DOUGLAS COUNTY VOTERS. PLEASE CLICK THE DONATE LINK TO DONATE TO OUR POLITICAL ACTION FUND.

index

ban

 

2016 OMMP Medical Marijuana Tracking Training – June 2016 Implementation

2016 OLCC Business Readiness Guide – Recreational Marijuana.pdf

 

 

 

UCA – John Sajo Testimony

Public Action Victory Recap!

Roseburg votes to allow October 1 marijuana sales

Last night after a public hearing that packed every seat in the Roseburg City Hall, the city council rejected a motion to prohibit October 1 sales to adults at existing licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The vote followed several hours of intense political action by Umpqua Cannabis Association members and others.

UCA members rallied on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn, next door to city hall, at 5:30 pm. Well over 100 people showed up. I spoke to the crowd and we organized our public testimony. We distributed green ribbons which dozens wore to indicate support for Umpqua cannabis. We had enough people show up that we were able to send a smaller contingent to the Sutherlin city council meeting which also took place at 7pm that evening. County Commissioner Chris Boice who already voted to ban all marijuana licenses on July 15 came out of the Courthouse to listen to my speech.

Just before 7pm we headed over to City Hall for the City Council meeting. As we walked in and it became obvious we would fill every seat in the room, one councilor was overheard saying, “Oh, there are more of them this week.” Eventually every seat was taken with dozens of people standing in the back of the room. Commissioner Boice had to listen to the hearing from the hall just outside the doorway along with a local judge. Commissioners worked through their normal business including allocating $2400 to a local brew festival, saying it would bring in tourists.

The marijuana portion of the agenda began with city staff explaining the details and timelines of the ordinance opting out of early sales which SB 460 allowed. They incorrectly told the councilors that OHA would decide which products dispensaries could sell. Several speakers corrected them during their testimony pointing out that early sales would be limited to marijuana plants and up to 1/4 ounce of flowers. Sales of extracts and edibles will not be allowed for non-patients until OLCC rules are promulgated. Around 25 people spoke. Every speaker except the director of the local ADAPT drug treatment program and his underling spoke in favor of allowing October 1 sales. The testimony was passionate, informed and ran the gamut from dispensary owners to a veteran with PTSD who said he couldn’t afford the OMMA card and just wanted to be able to go to a store and try marijuana. One man described how marijuana was his gateway off of meth and heroin. The crowd burst into loud applause after each speaker even after the mayor asked people to refrain from such displays to expedite the process. Speakers pointed out that Roseburg was declining economically and needed the marijuana revenue to keep the schools and library open. Many speakers called the council out on their hypocrisy of promoting alcohol but banning marijuana. UCA President Nathan Marsh pointed out that Oregon had over 1500 alcohol related deaths last year. Many people who had not signed up to testify were motivated by the electric energy in the room and spoke when the mayor asked if anyone else wanted to testify. The testimony in favor of early sales was suberb and I was proud an honored to be part of it.

After the public testimony the councilors spoke. Andrea Zielenski said she was worried about the kids. Tom Ryan said he thought the citizens should vote again before allowing early sales. Lew Marks (OLCC Director Steve Marks father) and Mayor Larry Rich said we should wait until the rules were in place. They voted for the ban. Ken Fazio, a former teacher, was eloquent in his descriptions of the failures of prohibition. He talked about being surprised at learning of former students that were now marijuana growers who were passionate, eager and willing to compromise to improve the community. He described his visit to a local dispensary and being impressed with the level of regulation. Alison Eggers described herself as a single mother who had never smoked marijuana but recognized that this is the future and “we aren’t going back”. John McDonald said it was a tough issue but that he could not support the ban. Steve Fazio, a local business attorney and possible swing vote, addre!
ssed his concerns with the inadequacy of current testing but said the rules will never be perfect but they are better than the black market and we shouldn’t let the perfect be an enemy of the good. He warned the crowd that if they applauded after he spoke he would change his vote and support the ban. Councilor Victoria Hawks, a local realtor, said she had come to the meeting expecting to vote for the ban but said comments by Fazio and the public had changed her mind. She also mentioned visiting Cougar Cannabis, a local dispensary, “It wasn’t at all what I expected. Kids going to the Subway next door wouldn’t even be able to look in the windows and see the product.”

When the Mayor called for the vote and asked for a show of hands opposing the motion to ban, Fazio, Eggers, Kaser, Hawks and McDonald raised their hands. The room erupted applause and cheers. Kaser joked, “I’ll change my vote” adding a little drama at the end but the meeting adjourned and Roseburg will allow early sales.

County Commissioner Boice shook my hand as I left the council chambers and said, “I’m ready to talk.”

Some of us went out the local McMenamins to celebrate with a beer – because there is still no place where we can enjoy marijuana together publicly.

The vet with PTSD met a local grower who offered to pay all his OMMA fees and provide him free medicine.

As my friend Lindsey Bradshaw used to say, “90% of politics is just being there!”

John Sajo
Director, Umpqua Cannabis Association

PS: A few observations

People opposing marijuana commerce are afraid of the unknown. When they understand the robust regulation of cannabis from OHA and OLCC they are less afraid. Public discussion of these issues invariably changes hearts and minds. The truth will set you free.

Press Release

06/24/2015

For immediate release June 24, 2015
The Umpqua Cannabis Association will hold a press conference at noon on July 1 in room 311 of the Douglas County Courthouse to commemorate the legalization of marijuana and to announce the organization’s plans for Douglas County.

The UCA was formed to promote the legal regulated cannabis industry in the Umpqua Valley.

“We believe that cannabis can be a benefit to all Douglas County residents by providing living wage jobs and new tax revenue,” said John Sajo, Umpqua Cannabis Association Executive Director.

UCA plans for Douglas County include:

1) Educate consumers about the new law
2) Offer grow classes for households that choose to produce their own marijuana
3) Assist local business in the licensing process
4) Supporting candidates for elected office that support fair regulation of this industry and opposing candidates who support local bans
5) Long range economic potential for Douglas County

UCA will represent the cannabis business community as well as consumers and medical marijuana patients.

Upcoming Events

Umpqua Valley HEMPFEST®
Weekly meetings at 910 SE Mill
“How to legally produce your own marijuana with 4 plants”

For more info contact John Sajo 541-530-2221 johnsajo@hughes.net

“The HEMPFEST mark is used under license from Seattle Events, A Nonprofit Corporation”

Open Letter Regarding House Bill 3400 -1 and -2

05/27/2015

My name is John Sajo, I am Executive Director of the Umpqua Cannabis Association and I have submitted testimony to you previously on implementing marijuana legalization.

We support much of the language in HB 3400-1 and -2.

Moving the marijuana tax to retail transactions will work better for many reasons. This tax should be kept low. I suggest allowing early sales to all adults at medical marijuana dispensaries but having no tax at all during a transition period. This will minimize prices and maximize the pull of customers away from the black market into the regulated market. This transition period can be used to finalize implementation of taxing details and will provide real sales numbers that can be used to set the tax rate. Regulated sales to adults could start as early as July 1, 2015. The 2016 Legislature could set the tax rate for taxes to start on July 1, 2016. This tax timeline along with allowing generous plant limits and overall efficient regulation is the best strategy to undercut the black market.

Progressive Fees

Please consider charging a progressive fee for all licensees. Having a small family farmer and Privateer Holdings both pay a $1000 license fee for their marijuana production facilities is not fair. Privateer’s representative Patrick Moen testified about their 60,000 sq. ft., $24 million marijuana production facility. Presumably they would expect millions of dollars in revenue to justify that investment. If the family farm has to pay the same fees as the giant corporation, they will be driven out. It will cost OLCC much more to regulate a giant entity than a small one so a flat license penalizes the small entity. Progressive licensing is fair.

Licensing fees that are progressive based on gross revenue is in the public interest. Large entities have a built in advantage in the economy of scale and how they adapt to regulation. If we are really trying to build a healthy economy based on small Oregon businesses and family farms we should make the playing field as fair as possible. Progressive license fees also offer a way to raise substantially more in revenue and to do so from those most able to afford it. There may also be a way to direct some such revenue back to local governments addressing Rob Bovett’s concern about localities that will not be adequately compensated based on the number of licensees and the impacts in their jurisdiction. Please consider this as a way of minimizing what will be a protracted struggle over local dispensary bans.

UCA strongly supports provisions in the bill that eliminate the prohibition of home gardens within 1000 feet of a school and similar provisions.

UCA supports the various penalty reductions and urge you to make all marijuana criminal penalties into violations punishable by fines.

UCA support the language in the -2 amendments regarding expungement of marijuana convictions.

We support the language creating a research license. Early research should focus on establishing dosages and best practices for all the new formulations of medical marijuana actually available in Oregon stores for Oregon patients.

Research should also be directed at determining if subsidizing medical marijuana for some patients saves money. If the OHP is paying for a patient’s morphine why shouldn’t it pay for their marijuana?

Please consider raising the limit for household possession. Measure 91 allows a household to grow four plants but only possess eight ounces. According to Chair Burdick, an indoor plant can yield 3-5 pounds and outdoor plants 10 or 11 pounds. While these numbers may represent the most skilled gardener ever, it is pretty easy to see that almost every harvest will put households over their possession limits. Language in SB 964 fixes this problems for medical marijuana gardens and some similar approach should fix this for households. A household could be made up of 5 adults. It does not make sense for the law to make possession of a few weeks supply a crime now that marijuana is legal.

Thank you for consideration of these points and your ongoing work on this challenging issue. We hope you will have more public hearings on this bill.

John Sajo

Open Letter to Governor Kate Brown

May 5, 2015

This is an open letter to Governor Kate Brown regarding SB 844, and tracking medical marijuana.

My name is John Sajo and I would like to comment on your May 1, 2015 letter to the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91.

I have been an advocate for marijuana reform for over thirty years. I collected my first signatures on a marijuana initiative petition in 1982. I have spoken to legislators about marijuana laws every session since then. I advised the drafters of measure 67 (the OMMA) on the language of that law and worked on that 1998 campaign. I co-founded Voter Power, an Oregon nonprofit which worked on implementing the OMMA and advocated for broader marijuana reform. I co-authored measures 33 and 74 which unsuccessfully attempted to legalize dispensaries in 2004 and 2010. I served on the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana from 2006-2010. I advised the sponsors of measure 91 on the language of the initiative and contributed financially to the campaign. I served on the Roseburg Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana in 2014. I am currently the Executive Director of the recently formed Umpqua Cannabis Association.

There is much discussion about eliminating the black market as one of the goals of Measure 91. Breaking the black market down a little bit will help analyze how to reduce it. There are many different aspects of the black market but they are not equally dangerous.

The black market is any sales of marijuana outside the legal, regulated system. After July 1 , when legalization takes effect, there will be many ways marijuana can be transferred between adults that will be legal but outside the regulated market. Any adult will legally be able to give any other adult up to an ounce of marijuana. Anyone holding a medical marijuana card can already legally give any other cardholder up to 24 ounces of marijuana. Thousands of pounds of marijuana will be exchanged legally between adults outside of the regulated market.

An adult selling anyone marijuana anywhere other than in a medical dispensary or rec store will be illegal. Anyone selling marijuana to a minor will be illegal. These transactions constitute the in-state black market. They can range from a friend or neighbor exchanging cash for marijuana at home to someone buying marijuana from a stranger on the street. There have been established criminal networks distributing marijuana illegally for decades.

The out-of-state black market is noteworthy because the Cole memo requires states to maintain a robust regulatory structure to prevent it. Oregon has a long history of exporting marijuana. In 1986, Oregon marijuana legalization activists campaigned with a brochure headlined ” Oregon ‘s Billion Dollar Crop” that was based on NORML’s estimate of the value of Oregon ‘s marijuana crop that year. Marijuana seized in other states has been linked to OMMP gardens in many cases but this must be considered in the context of an underground market that was estimated at a billion dollars thirteen years before the OMMA even existed. The percentage of Oregon marijuana exports related to the OMMP is unclear.

Many marijuana grows linked to Mexican cartels have been busted on public lands in Oregon . The largest seizure a few years ago was over 100,000 plants. Presumably most of this marijuana is exported from Oregon through existing criminal networks. There is also a substantial amount of marijuana “hidden in plain sight” in basements, warehouses and outdoors that is cultivated by Oregonians illegally and shipped out of state. Many out of state marijuana seizures are linked to Oregonians with no ties to the OMMP.

After July, marijuana will illegally “leak” out of Oregon through many different channels. Marijuana will be shipped through the mail and through private carriers. People will drive marijuana out of state in their cars. People will fly to other states with marijuana in their luggage. Millions of cars and millions of airline passengers leave Oregon every year. To put the challenge of stopping leakage in perspective note that Colorado sold 140,000 pounds of marijuana in 2014. If Oregon produces a similar amount it would only take a half dozen semi trucks to carry the entire state’s production. Smugglers are no doubt becoming more sophisticated and shipping more marijuana concentrates. A million dollars worth of “shatter” could easily fit in one car. Stopping leakage from Oregon to other states should be recognized as an unattainable goal in a free society.

SB 844 proposed reporting and potential inspections of small medical marijuana gardens as part of a robust regulatory structure to satisfy the Cole memo. This was called “tracking light” but for the thousands of patients and growers who would be subject to warrantless searches of their homes it is not. You write, ”I fear that a self reporting system of tracking in not sufficiently reliable…” Please consider the burden more rigorous tracking will place on individual patients and medical marijuana growers who are helping a small number of patients.

There are many OMMA patients who depend on their own garden or a grower because they will never be able to afford to buy marijuana at a dispensary. In 2014, 44% of OMMA patients qualified for low income discounts. Intrusive regulations may drive growers for these patients out of the OMMP system and will leave these patients with a difficult time obtaining medical marijuana.

I support tracking of large commercial marijuana farms, but tracking of small patient gardens is an unwarranted government intrusion into the private lives of patients and people trying to help them. Some people support those provisions because they believe it is necessary to satisfy the Cole memo.

The Cole memo does not specify exactly what is required to continue federal tolerance of Oregon ‘s legalization law. It does not mention tracking. In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 10, 2013 , James Cole did say, ” As the guidance explains, a jurisdiction’s regulatory scheme must be tough in practice, not just on paper. It must include strong enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding.” There will never be adequate funding to audit every small garden. Oregon has allowed patients and growers to sell untracked marijuana to dispensaries for over a year and the federal government has shown no interest in shutting this down. Washington has a chaotic medical marijuana market with no tracking and the federal government has not acted to shut that down. In December, Congress passed a budget rider that forbids the U.S. Justice Department from spending money pursuing activity legal under a state medical marijuana law and the significance of this is currently being litigated.

Tracking is appropriate for the commercial marijuana industry because it will raise quality, improve farmers’ best practices, and promote efficiency. It will allow any contaminated product to be traced back to its source to identify the cause and minimize any adverse public health impact. Tracking large producers, backed by audits will minimize leakage where it would be most significant. Tracking all the small gardens is unrealistic. Requiring tracking on small cooperative gardens merely adds a burden on patients and their caregivers. What if a patient growing for other patients fails to report or makes mistakes. Are we going to penalize a struggling sick person for being unable to comply with arbitrary and unnecessary red tape?

Tracking finished products is one thing. Tracking plants is quite another. The quality of information in a plant tracking system is suspect. Potentially millions of events and measurements will be tracked. Who is going to audit all that data? When a farmer reports that a plant was destroyed due to mold or bugs, is an inspector going to come check the compost pile? If cameras are required to audit the tracking system in real time, are they going to include night vision sensors to prevent cheaters from picking and diverting flowers in the dark? Can we be confident that hackers will never be able to modify the online data? How will we insure that OLCC employees are not corrupted the old fashioned way with bribes or threats? Tracking may sound good in the abstract but when applied to the real world situation of monitoring growing plants in diverse environments its effectiveness should be balanced against costs.

The only way to diminish the black market is to create a thriving efficient regulated market that significantly undercuts black market prices and offers wider selection, better quality and a safe comfortable environment. The regulated market can produce marijuana much cheaper by allowing commercial growers to cultivate without arbitrary plant limits. The black market can be defeated by market forces, not by arbitrary rules with lots of unintended consequences.

In your letter, you refer to the “costs of a seed-to-sale tracking system for all licensed or permitted marijuana growers…” First, I argue that the dollar costs of actually providing anything beyond the self-reporting system for all the 35,000 OMMA gardens would be astronomical. I doubt it is even possible. Second there is a huge cost in terms of personal rights. Self-reporting and possible inspections are already violations of the right to unwarranted search and seizure. Beyond that, these provisions are causing discomfort and stress to thousands of patients and the people that care for them. At a time when any Oregon household can possess and cultivate marijuana, why should patients or people assisting them by producing marijuana for them be subject to greater scrutiny.

Oregon can and will greatly diminish the in-state black market. The most important part of this will be much lower prices. The problem with this solution is that it will exacerbate the problem of out of state leakage. As Oregon prices drop, more out of state tourists will be attracted here and some will try to take marijuana home to other states. This highlights the real elephant in the room – federal law. It might be worth pointing out that some of this out of state leakage is desperate medical patients from other states seeking relief in states where their medicine is legal. Last year a Missouri patient traveled to Colorado to see if marijuana would help her. It did. She tried taking some home but was arrested driving through western Kansas , where she died in jail because she was denied access to her prescription drugs. An Oregon patient I know was convicted of a felony for mailing marijuana to herself so she could medicate while visiting family in another state. We might!
also ask if it isn’t better for Americans in other states to be buying marijuana from Oregon rather than supporting the Mexican drug cartels which represent a clear and present danger to national security?

Oregon must implement Measure 91 to satisfy the Cole memo but there are many ways to do so. We should also be aware that actually succeeding in its goals would have some negative unintended consequences. I suggest that Oregon should also spend time and resources trying to lead the federal government away from a dysfunctional and destructive policy that is unsupported by either the citizens of our country or science.

What are some alternatives to seed to sale tracking to minimize out-of-state leakage? I suggest focus tracking on people and money, not plants and patients. There is a virtual gold rush of out-of-state investors seeking to buy marijuana farms and businesses. The most significant and destructive leakage would be if organized criminal enterprises like Mexican cartels or biker gangs in other states own and control Oregon farms. Regardless of tracking, I believe such organizations would be able to divert large amounts of marijuana into their existing distribution networks. This activity could be minimized by delaying out-of-state ownership of marijuana farms businesses and carefully regulating investment in such business. This would prioritize focusing on the most harmful aspects of leakage and would do so with inexpensive effective tactics.

Again I suggest that the best way to eliminate the black market is to allow the legitimate market to undercut it. Timing is very important. Senator Ferrioli’s suggestion that medical dispensaries should be allowed to sell to adult users on July 1 makes sense. Allowing people to legally possess marijuana but giving them no way to legally obtain it for months -if they grow their own- or a year – if they buy at OLCC licensed stores- is a recipe for stimulating, not eliminating, the black market.

Thank you for considering these ideas. I look forward to communicating further with your administration as Oregon implements legal marijuana.

John Sajo
Director, Umpqua Cannabis Association
541-530-2221

Close
Go top