Residency Requirement for Marijuana Businesses

Overview

After passage in 2014 of Ballot Measure 91 (M91), which legalized the sale and use of adult-use marijuana in Oregon, legislators created the Measure 91 Implementation/ Marijuana Legalization Committee. It was tasked with creating legislation to establish the recreational cannabis industry and protect patients already participating in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. The initial laws legislators adopted included a strict residency requirement for marijuana growers that stifled investment in the infant industry.

Challenge

Legislators limited the licensing of all marijuana businesses to Oregon residents residing in the state for at least two years. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) further required that any marijuana business be at least 51 percent owned by Oregon residents. This requirement, combined with the inability of marijuana-related businesses to work with banking institutions, reduced access to capital and outside investments for fledgling businesses.

Approach

Green Star Growing, a medical marijuana cultivation company in Southern Oregon with out-of-state investors, retained CFM to modify or remove the residency requirement, which would enable it to transition to the recreational marijuana market.

CFM aligned other marijuana interests and created a coalition to pursue the change. The coalition hammered home the message that the best course of action was removing the residency requirement entirely and helped the committee co-chairs gather the support to move the bill. CFM remained vigilant after the bill passed to block the residency requirement resurfacing as an amendment or compromise deal.

Result

Legislators ultimately determined the residency restriction was detrimental to the growth of Oregon’s marijuana industry – and to some of the Oregonians the policy was intended to protect. The legislature removed all residency requirements for business license applicants for medical and recreational marijuana industries, which will likely increase investments in Oregon’s newest industry.

CFM State Affairs and Development Associate Tess Milio represented Green Star Growing in taking on this challenge. Learn more about Tess and her work here