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Cannabis: The Good, the Bad, the Uncertain 

Since Oregon voters approved recreational marijuana and it became legal in 2015, the industry has seen a lot of changes. What started as a grassroots, largely local industry has begun its corporatization. Oversupply—due at least in part to the fact that Oregon businesses can't export their product out of state, like other businesses can—prompted a moratorium on new business licenses, at least for a time. Meanwhile, CBD is popping up in everything from moisturizer to breath mints.

click to enlarge PIXABAY
  • Pixabay

And in our local area, we continue to see the good, the bad and the uncertain elements of ushering in an industry that was in the shadows for decades.

The good:

Kudos to the City of Bend for offering marijuana businesses some level of privacy in an industry that is already overwhelmed with regulation. As the City prepares to implement CityView, its new permitting, licensing and inspections software, the City Council voted in favor of removing personal identifiable information from its software. Before this, when submitting a marijuana business operation license application, applicants had to submit the driver's license or government-issued photo i.d. number for all managers and owners of the business—information that would then be easily accessible through the City's website. Not only did that put personal information out there when it didn't need to be—it was information the City didn't need to gather, since the Oregon Health Authority—which medical growers work with—or the Oregon Liquor Control Commission—which regulates recreational providers—already perform background checks and gather that needed personal information. This is a small move, but one that offers more fairness for this legal industry.

Also good:

The passage of the Oregon bill that disallows landlords from discriminating against people who have marijuana convictions on their records—or who are medical marijuana patients. It can be challenging to prove a landlord discriminated, but it's a positive step toward erasing the damage of prohibition nonetheless.

The bad:

The Deschutes County Commission, which includes two avowed anti-marijuana zealots, continues to deny marijuana-operations for flimsy reasons, this time denying the application for a dispensary in Tumalo, where its owners had complied with all necessary regulations. Commissioner Patti Adair even admitted her willingness to go against the majority will of the people when she stated during a meeting that the majority of county residents voted against legal recreational marijuana, and that was the reason for her willingness to continue denying applications—as if it is possible or politically responsible to separate the voters of rural Deschutes County from the rest of the county in decision-making that affects the entire county. If there's any ray of light here, it's that Commissioner Tony DeBone has begun to be more vocal in his opposition to the other two Commissioners' undemocratic wranglings... but since he'll continue to be outvoted two to one, it's barely solace.

The uncertain:

The list of products infused with CBD these days is longbut that might not last, since on May 31, the Food and Drug Administration held a hearing in what's seen as the first step toward possible regulation of CBD in food and beverages. The 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp legal across the U.S.—including products that are hemp-derived—(good stuff for Deschutes County hemp farmers, who don't have to pass muster with the County Commission to do their work), which included CBD. But since the FDA regulates food, beverages and dietary supplements, the addition of CBD to those products lies in something of a grey area right now. The FDA relies on clinical studies to inform its work—and those are in somewhat short supply for CBD. How will this all shake out? It's unclear—but if you feel strongly about it one way or the other, the FDA is taking public comments on the issue through July 2.

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