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Oregon Rakes in $25.5 Million from Marijuana Taxes So Far This YearBonnie King Salem-News.com Cannabis De-Classified
Oregon counts up the revenue while sick and dying patients lose out.
(SALEM, Ore.) - The green, green grass of home... Cannabis money is flowing like water in the State of Oregon.
In January, Medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25% tax on recreational marijuana sales, and as of July 31, the Department of Revenue has processed $25.5 million in marijuana tax payments.
Everybody’s happy, right? In general, yes... but that would exclude the patients of Oregon.
The majority of Oregon’s 70,000 OMMP patients have had their worlds rocked these last couple of months. While adults 21+ in Oregon are enjoying legal access to more cannabis products, the sick and dying citizens of Oregon are increasingly suffering at the hands of lawmakers, lobbyists and their supporters.
Surprise! Oregon Lawmakers had a plan.
Measure 91 passed by a 56% majority in 2014. We were jubilant. But, to our surprise, that meant the door was open for Legislators to have their way with our new law, but without the voters’ involvement (other than public comment).
House Bill 4014, Senate Bill 1511 and Senate Bill 1598 were passed in the 2016 legislative session and make very significant changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
Back in 2014, when the Measure 91 signatures were turned in to the Secretary of State’s office, sponsor Anthony Johnson told Salem-News that if M91 passed, the new law would not have any impact on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
When asked recently about the Legislature’s actions, Anthony Johnson said, “I didn't expect the Oregon Legislature to push through new medical marijuana restrictions. What I didn't count on was people within the cannabis industry pushing for new regulations.
“With cannabis industry members joining forces with legislators and policymakers, the legislative fervor for more medical marijuana regulations became too big to stop, unfortunately.”
There were many hearings and public comment opportunities. In fact, scores of people spoke to the committees at every opportunity and the OHA received hundreds of letters. There were rallies in front of the Capitol, informing citizens of what happened after they cast their ballot. Still, the OMMP has been dissected against its will. The very program that has made “recreation” possible is being sacrificed to the god of mammon.
No Gardens and No Farmers for Many
Sick and dying patients are easy to take advantage of. The poor, downtrodden, oppressed and depressed citizens that are scraping to get by are an easy target, and simple to disregard. It’s been easy to see that the goal was to increase revenue from patients or end the OMMP program altogether. Probably both.
“While I do believe that regulations were eventually going to be passed as it only takes a few cases to put the entire medical program in a bad light, I wish that I had been more prepared for interests within the cannabis industry that would be working for more medical regulations," said Johnson.
“In the end, I'm most disappointed that there are medical patients that have lost their supply of medicine because of new medical regulations.”
Thousands of patients may have lost their grower. The new restrictions have made limits on farmers leaving many sick folks on their own, without medicine. It is much more costly and difficult to maintain an OMMP garden than ever before.
Anthony Johnson suggests that those that have lost their garden or farmer contact members of the Marijuana Legalization Committee and their own state representatives as well.
If patients can’t get their medicine legally, they will turn to the black market. That’s a simple fact. It’s also a simple way to keep law enforcement revenue coming in throughout the legalization excitement.
“The black market is still thriving and the more you make arbitrary rules that have no basis in common sense, the more you undermine the positives associated with legalization. Typical: politicians listening to the greedy instead of what is best for the people,” Chris Corsello stated on Facebook.
Stephen DeAngelo, founder and CEO of Harborside Health Center, commented, "Well, we happen to have a very robust underground market here in California that already underprices the legitimate market—at current rates.
"So if there's a doubling of prices in the dispensaries, there will be massive outflow back to the illicit market, and dispensaries (and the growers working with them) will either go out of business or get forced back into the black market."
Naturally, black market participation is an invitation for law enforcement, and revenues from fines keep their budgets healthy.
...Nobody Rides for Free
Reasonably, Oregon's legalization measure passing wasn’t all about stoner freedom. It wasn’t about access to medicine, or the liberty of our citizens. It was (and is) about money. Money is hard to pass up.
Oregon has always been a grass roots state, and watching other states benefit from something we should have been leading was just not acceptable.
Plus, a multitude of voters have been impacted by the imprisonment of non-violent offenders. This cause has touched many families, and even the most conservative voters found themselves voting YES for Measure 91 to end the madness.
The OMMP is one of the most successful endeavors the people of Oregon have ever put forth. We have lead the way in helping our citizens, but it can be destroyed. From the looks of it, it's nearly about finished.
This is where cynicism of the government is born. Nicely done, Oregon Legislators, you got us good. But hey, at least there’s a whole lot of money to show for it.
Source: OMMP; Oregon Dept. of Revenue
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