Pot committee talks origin of legal weed, ‘immaculate conception’

The fast-approaching July 1 legalization date prompted the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to ask state lawmakers for direction on where people should legally obtain these cannabis seeds and plant starts.

SALEM — In less than five months, Oregonians age 21 and over can legally grow and consume recreational marijuana under Measure 91 passed last fall. Retail pot stores will not open until sometime in 2016.

The fast-approaching July 1 legalization date prompted the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to ask state lawmakers for direction on where people should legally obtain these cannabis seeds and plant starts.

Until a legal recreational crop is grown there will be no legal source of seeds or starts for recreational marijuana growers.

Rob Patridge, Klamath County District Attorney and chairman of the OLCC Board of Commissioners, asked lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday night whether they want to assume “immaculate conception” — essentially not address the question of where legal recreational marijuana comes from — or “whether this Legislature wants to allow us to bring for a limited amount of time some of the clones and seeds and etc. over from the medical side, so that’s half immaculate conception.”

Patridge said if lawmakers do not address this question, it could put the entire marijuana industry at risk. Colorado required people to obtain marijuana seeds and starts from medical growers, while Washington assumed immaculate conception.

Lawmakers did not give a definitive answer on the question Wednesday night, but Burdick said they should address it in legislation. Committee co-chair Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, said lawmakers should consider the growing seasons for people who cultivate marijuana outdoors, because legislation on the issue could determine whether they have an opportunity to contribute to the original legal stock.

The OLCC’s request for guidance on the origin of legal marijuana was one of 52 issues the agency asked lawmakers to clarify. OLCC needs to begin writing rules to implement Measure 91, and committee co-chair Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, said the committee will include many of these time-sensitive recommendations in the first of two major bills. Many OLCC recommendations are technical and will be included in the first bill that lawmakers will fast-track, Burdick said.

“After tonight, co-chair Lininger and I will get together and compile a bill that will probably err in the direction of being more inclusive of issue areas in the hopes to getting as much into this bill to provide OLCC with the direction they need as they go through their rulemaking process,” Burdick said.

OLCC recommendations that provoke “a big firestorm” and other policy issues will be included in a “main omnibus” bill the committee will produce later in the session, Burdick said.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Insider newsletter. To subscribe, go to oregoncapitalinsider.com

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