History to 2016: Medical and Recreational Cannabis in the USA and Oregon
According to a October 2015 Gallup poll, 58% of Americans are in favor of legalizing Cannabis. In November 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act,” which would remove Cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to legalize medical or recreational Cannabis without Federal intervention. Despite the massive revenue from Cannabis businesses across the nation, most banks still refuse to work with businesses due to the risk of losing their FDIC status. National policies will need to address this issue soon, but the lack of bank backing has not stopped the Cannabis industry from growing faster than any other current industry.
By January 2016, Washington DC and 23 states had passed medical Cannabis laws, and four states had passed recreational Cannabis laws. As the United States begins to consider national policy changes around medical and recreational Cannabis, Oregon’s Cannabis laws provide an excellent model for future growth. In 1998, Oregonians voted to create the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). This program regulates and legalizes the production, processing and sales of Medical Cannabis flowers, plants, seeds, capsules, edibles, topicals, and extracts. Under the oversight of the Oregon Health Authority, the OMMP system has grown annually and served 77,620 patients in January 2016. In 2014, Oregonians voted to legalize recreational (non-medical) use of Cannabis in a program overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) .
In July 2015, everyone in Oregon above age 21 was legally allowed to carry Cannabis, and in October 2015, limited Cannabis flower, plant and seed recreational sales began at retail OMMP dispensaries. Throughout 2016, the OLCC will issue recreational Cannabis licenses to growers and testing laboratories (April), to processors (June), and to retailers (October), at which time everyone above age 21 will be able to purchase Cannabis flowers, plants, seeds, capsules, edibles, topicals, and extracts. The population of Oregon in 2015 was 3.7 million, and 2.7 million (over 72%) of these residents are above 21 and may legally buy recreational Cannabis. This number does not include the number of tourists above age 21 who visit Oregon and purchase recreational Cannabis. The demand for Cannabis is at an all-time high, and the Cannabis market continues to grow with no signs of slowing.
OM Farms and OM Extracts are leaders in the new Cannabis paradigm, and look forward to the day when every American will have access to this life-changing medicine.