The Oregon Health Authority will allow dispensaries to accept marijuana extracts from processors who’ve submitted completed license applications after April 1, reversing a controversial policy that roiled the state’s commercial cannabis processing industry.
The agency earlier this month warned Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries not to accept cannabis extracts, like butane hash oil, from unlicensed processors.
State officials said the licensing process would not begin until April 1 and would take a few months.
The agency’s rule came in response to a bill signed this month by Gov. Kate Brown, which makes unlicensed production of marijuana extracts a felony. The provision is intended to target homemade butane hash oil operations.
Oregon’s cottage industry of extracts producers pushed back on the rule, arguing that it would halt extract production, lead to layoffs and send the hash oil market back underground.
The co-chairs of a joint legislative committee overseeing marijuana implementation weighed in on the policy last week, urging Lynne Saxton, director of the health authority, to “find a path forward that would enable safe production of cannabis extracts to continue without undue interruption.”
Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, and Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, encouraged the agency to adopt a provisional license system or another “safe harbor” for commercial extract makers that operate within the rules.
“Oregon has in some instances allowed cannabis sector participants that have applied for permission to undertake an activity to engage in the activity on a temporary basis,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter dated March 23. “The rationale for that approach—to avoid undue disruption to patients and businesses— would be well-served here.”
That day, the agency issued an informational bulletin saying it would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to accept extracts from processors who have submitted completed applications, along with a $4,000 fee.
André Ourso, manager of the state’s medical marijuana program, said Monday that the agency made the policy change after analyzing the marijuana legislation that came out of this year’s session.
Officials said the health authority will post the list of processors that filed completed applications on its website.
Beau Whitney, chief operating officer of Greenpoint Oregon, which produces marijuana extracts for the medical marijuana market under the brands Golden XTRX and Proper Oil, said he welcomes the policy shift, saying his company is ready to submit its application as soon as the state opens the process.
“We have been ready for a long time,” he said.