Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D)

An Oregon bill that would allow the creation of state regulated medical marijuana dispensaries is now heading Gov. John Kitzhaber’s (D) desk. The governor has not yet said how he plans to proceed.

On Saturday the Oregon House of Representatives gave final approval to HB 3460. The same bill had previously been approved by the Senate last week.

The bill would finally create a system for state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.  Dispensaries would need to register with the Oregon Health Authority, required to meet certain health standards, and pay a licensing fee. Card holding patients would be able to easily buy medical marijuana at these new facilities.

Some dispensary like entities have operated in the state for years but always in a legal grey area. The medical marijuana initiative voters approved in 1998 didn’t explicitly address the issue of dispensaries, which has lead to patchwork enforcement with each locality treating them differently. Multiple attempts, including two ballot initiates, have been made to deal with this problem but up until now they have all failed to become law.

If the governor signs the law it will help bring some consistency to the state’s medical marijuana system and make life easier for patients. It could also potentially have some impact on any future marijuana legalization efforts in the state. For example, in Colorado the state used their regulated medical marijuana dispensary system as a model for how to implement the the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation released under Creative Commons License