2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations

Oregon’s 2021 legislative session was active on cannabis as a series of bills passed changing the conditions for patients. HB 3369 amended the statutory definition of “attending physician” to “attending provider” thereby extending the ability to recommend cannabis to registered nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical nurses, physicians’ assistants, and other medical professionals. SB 307 allows veterans with a more than 50% disability rating from the VA to waive their patient registration fees. Two seperate bills- HB 3000 and SB 38 are working to establish testing standards for products derived from industrial hemp. Each of these individual improvements should work in tandem to create a more safe and accessible medical cannabis program for Oregonians.

For the time being, Oregon’s emergency COVID measures for the medical cannabis program remain in place. The state also issued a set of emergency rules as wildfires spread across the state in April 2021, these temporary rules would allow patients to renew their cards or make changes to their registration without fees.

Oregon was one of four states that experienced a decline in patient population. With affordable products readily available and ubiquitous dispensary access across the state, many patients have seen little need to continue to pay for renewal or registration fees when there aren’t enough advantages to make them worth it.

When looking at the state of medical cannabis in Oregon, one must weigh the costs to enter the program against the benefits. For $200, a patient essentially gains a tax break on products for a single year. They are not provided with any additional protections for areas where patients commonly face discrimination, such as housing, parental rights, organ transplants, employment, and DUI charges. The state must work to provide these anti discrimination protections and lower the cost prohibitive fees associated with the program. Otherwise, it is clear that participation will continue to shrink.