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SALEM — The Oregon Senate on Friday approved legislation removing a two-year residency requirement for recreational marijuana producers, processors and retailers — one of several key marijuana proposals moving through the Legislature’s 35-day session.
House Bill 4014 passed 20-6, with just one Democrat, Sen. Rod Monroe of East Portland, joining a handful of Republicans in voting no. The House voted 48-11 for the bill on Tuesday, meaning it now heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk.
Friday’s vote looked a lot like Tuesday’s, with a short debate and bipartisan approval following hours of lawmakers listening to the 51-page bill being read aloud. Republicans in both chambers have bucked tradition this session by refusing, most of the time, to waive constitutional rules that say bills should be read aloud before votes.
In the House, lawmakers took turns reading the dry legal language. In the Senate, members waited for two hours and 40 minutes as clerks and staffers traded spots at the dais.
Many of them spent time in rooms behind the dais normally open to the public as a museum, leaving the clerks speaking to what looked like an empty floor. Senate rules count those rooms as part of the Senate floor, which allowed members to eat and chat unseen while still being counted as technically present. Cheers erupted Friday when a clerk finally finished.
“This bill arrives here as one of the most thoroughly vetted pieces of legislation this Legislature has ever considered,” said Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day. Ferrioli, who stayed on the main Senate floor as the bill was read, noted the bill emerged from a House-Senate marijuana committee with a unanimous vote.
In addition to removing a residency requirement for recreational marijuana license holders, HB 4014 also makes other changes to Oregon marijuana policy, including:
• Reducing annual medical marijuana card registration fees for veterans from $ 200 to $ 20. Currently, veterans with 100 percent service-related disabilities or those with post-traumatic stress disorder qualify for the discount.
• Treating medical marijuana the same as prescription drugs when setting conditions for people on pretrial release, diversion unrelated to impaired driving, probation or post-prison supervision.
• Allowing all marijuana establishments to deduct business expenses allowable under the federal tax code when filing state tax returns. Under current policy, only recreational marijuana businesses with Oregon Liquor Control Commission licenses are eligible to claim those exemptions.
• Allowing medical marijuana patients, many of whom complain that the Oregon Health Authority is slow to process applications for cards, to use completed application receipts as a registry card when shopping at dispensaries for up to 30 days. Patients now must show a valid medical marijuana card to make purchases.
A spokesman for Brown said Friday the office typically does not comment on legislation until legal counsel has reviewed it.