Medical Pot Industry Grills Oregon Official Over New Rules

By Shawn Dwyer 06/30/14

Medical marijuana dispensaries questioned and complained about new regulations for their once unfettered industry.

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While medical marijuana has been operating with relative impunity since 1999 in Oregon, a new state law passed last year will soon reign in the unchecked industry with a series of rules that run 31-pages long.

On Saturday, over 100 representatives of medical marijuana dispensaries from around the state grilled Oregon’s dispensary program director, Tom Burns, over regulations that will do everything from institute security requirements to enforcing packaging labels and lab testing.

Last year, the Oregon legislature passed a law that mandated the state’s health authority to create a registry of medical marijuana facilities while drafting rules they will soon be required to follow. Because of the current near-lawlessness of the industry, several dispensaries have already been shut down due to “egregious” violations.

"You've got consumption on premises, you have unlocked doors, you have people wandering in without [medical marijuana] cards and you are dispensing to them; that is a major violation and we will revoke,” Burns said during forum with dispensary owners.

But he was quick to iterate that the state wasn’t looking to crack down hard on dispensaries. "We don't want to be looked at as the Gestapo coming in to close you down," he said. "We want you to be successful and to meet the letter and the rule of the law."

Despite his vehemence in upholding the new rules, Burns stated that he has long been a supporter of marijuana legalization. And he admitted that the new rules weren’t the absolute solution to the problem.

"Is it perfect? Absolutely not,” Burns said. “There are a whole lot of holes and you guys have identified a lot of them today."

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.