There have been a lot of changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) recently. There have been a few positive changes, such as bigger plant counts and possession limits for growers cultivating for patients and (soon) the ability of some growers to sell up to 20 pounds per year into the OLCC recreational marijuana system. Unfortunately, however, too many of these changes have been for the worse, placing burdensome regulations on too many small farmers.
Many of these compassionate farmers, don’t want to jump through the hoops and pay the added costs that Oregon is now imposing on medical growers. The Oregon Health Authority is now placing growers in the position of making up their minds: either you can only grow 12 plants maximum, transfer over to the OLCC system or you must agree to the added fees and regulations that come with the ability to legally cultivate for than 12 medical cannabis plants on your grow site. And, you must let the state know by December 1st:
Who is required to respond?
Everyone registered with the OMMP as a grower, processor, or dispensary.
What decision is to be made?
Registrants are required to provide notice on a form prescribed by OMMP of their decision to:
- Remain registered with OMMP, use the Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) and pay an additional fee of approximately $480 (additional info on CTS will be available in early 2018, fee is not due at this time); or
- Apply for a license with the OLCC. A complete application must be submitted to OLCC before January 1, 2018; or
- Indicate they are a patient growing for themselves and there are no more than 12 mature plants and 24 immature plants at their grow site. A grow site where a patient is growing for themselves and where there are not more than 12 mature and 24 immature plants at their grow site is exempt from CTS tracking.
Who will be required to track using CTS?
All growers (except as outlined below), processors, and dispensaries.
Are there exemptions to CTS tracking?
Yes, only for a patient growing for themselves and growing at a grow site where there are no more than 12 mature plants and 24 immature plants is exempt from tracking in CTS.
What happens if I don’t respond or do not follow through with my selection response?
If a registrant does not notify OMMP of their decision by December 1, 2017, the registration will not be renewed.
If the registrant notifies OMMP with their decision to apply to be licensed with OLCC but does not submit a complete application with OLCC by January 1, 2018, the registration will not be renewed.
Additional Grower Info
All growers at a grow site must collectively make the decision to remain registered with OMMP or move to OLCC and submit only one form to OMMP. Submitting more than one form for a grow site may result in the grow site not being renewed.
Growers that are not required to use CTS will still be required to report transfers monthly into the OMMP online system as outlined on the reporting webpage.
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 patient growers impacted by this rule 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.
While it is understandable that many growers don’t want be inspected and tracked, let’s hope that compassion wins the day and most farmers don’t abandon their patients. There are still many benefits to cultivating medical cannabis, both financially and personally, as it simply feels good to help out people in need. One thing is for certain, we must continue to organize and fight to help Oregon’s medical patients.