Local concern over impacts of proposed marijuana regulation

Jars of marijuana at Oregon Farmacy in Medford. (Sammy Shaktah/News 10)

The Oregon Senate passed a bill Monday that would freeze legal recreational marijuana production at its current levels by stopping new production licenses from being issued amid a statewide surplus.

The surplus is currently at a rate where there’s enough marijuana in Oregon to last six and a half years, according to Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland).

The measure would have to be passed by the House in order to come into effect. Passing the measure could have negative impacts on local marijuana businesses, with some local owners concerned that out-of-state investors create an economically unlevel playing field within the state.

Clay Bearnson, Medford City Councilman and owner of Oregon Farmacy, a local dispensary, applied for his marijuana production license last year. He said he is concerned that the new bill could postpone the processing another two years.

Bearnson said that his dispensary currently gets their products from many gardens throughout Oregon, but having his own garden through a production license would allow him to have a wider variety of marijuana products. He agreed that something should be done about the surplus of cannabis in the state.

“I think for starters, they can go back to having a two-year residency requirement for all OLCC licensees, and let whoever is in be grandfathered in,” he said.

Bearnson hoped that current individuals already queued for the production licenses can be processed if the bill does pass.

“I think also the push for interstate commerce and something on the federal level will really help out too, because we’re pretty well renowned for our cannabis cultivation in southern Oregon,” Bearnson said.

While this measure waits on the State House to decide if it will pass - local marijuana businesses prepare for the potential slowdown of new local licenses.

As a councilman, Bearnson thinks marijuana's taxable proceeds can provide money for new public facilities to be created in Medford.

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