I acknowledge there are legitimate concerns that the passage of Measure 91 may endanger the OHA /OMMP system of dispensaries and adversely effect patients.
Concern #1: There is NO residency requirement for license holders. The risk here is that big money from anywhere in the US can come stake their claims on Oregon’s emerging legal cannabis market, placing undue and unfair pressure on smaller locally owned businesses and dispensaries. Both Washington and Colorado have residency requirements and I think Oregon should have one too, especially in the first few years. But to my mind, this is not enough to vote NO. And there are ways to create one down the road through the legislature and through the OLCC which will have significant rule making powers.
Concern #2: The OLCC can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Many look to the mess in Washington state as proof a liquor commission cannot deal with cannabis regulation. Others argue Colorado has been far more successful because regulation is done by a branch of the Colorado Dept. of Revenue. But here’s the thing – a little bit of research will prove very quickly the reasons for Washington’s failures and Colorado’s successes are far more complex than which government agency is in charge.
Concern #3: The creation of a legal recreational market for those 21+ puts the future of the OMMP system at risk. There are predictions that once retail stores open and the sky does not fall, the Oregon legislature will begin to look for ways to both erode and somehow roll the OMMP into the new legal market system. We know that Colorado did a great job working with and even empowering the existing medical cannabis stakeholders, giving them the first spots in line for recreational licenses. And Washington state does not have a valid, legal, state sanctioned medical cannabis system, like Oregon. There is also language in 91 that leaves the OMMP system alone entirely.
Here again, this is not enough to vote NO. Patients in Oregon have safe, legal and affordable access. And if 91 passes, there will be a lot of stakeholders in the OMMP system making sure that continues including us. But at the end of the day, ending prohibition means that everyone 21 and over, gains safe and legal access.
The way I see it, one thing is certain – ending cannabis prohibition will be a bumpy imperfect process and no ballot initiative is going to make everyone happy. To those who say “let’s wait for something better”, Measure 91 is a huge step forward and we don’t think we should wait any longer. I’m certain both the African American and Latino/Hispanic communities of Oregon having endured “an insanely disproportionate drug war misery”, don’t think we should wait any longer either.