Oregon legalized medical marijuana not long after California, and it was the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis in 1973. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act was established in 1998 with the passage of Oregon Ballot Measure 67. The measure passed with 54.6% approval.

The law enabled the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation for patients with qualifying medical conditions. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) is run by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Recreational cannabis was legalized in 2014 with the voter-approved Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act, but the state’s medical marijuana program is still active. The latest figures, as of April 2019, show there are 28,177 patients registered with the OMMP, according to Jonathan Modie, lead communications officer for the OHA.

  • Cancer
  • Degenerative or pervasive neurological disorder
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Medical condition or treatment that produces at least one of the following:
    • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
    • Persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
    • Seizures, including those caused by epilepsy
    • Severe pain
    • Severe nausea

Applying for Medical Marijuana in Oregon

To receive a medical marijuana card in Oregon, a state-certified physician must state in writing that the patient has a qualifying medical condition and that medical marijuana may mitigate the symptoms or effects of that condition. The certification must be renewed annually.

The Oregon Medical Marijuana Online System is designed to allow patients to apply for their medical marijuana card online, providing prospective patients with an additional process as well as mailing in a paper application. Online registrants must create a patient account and upload the proper documents, including a photo ID and an attending physician’s statement signed within 90 days of the application date. For patients younger than 18, a Minor Declaration Form must be filled out by a parent or guardian. The department’s online PDF instruction document provides detailed guidance through the application process.

The basic application fee for patients is $200. Fee reductions are available for those who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Oregon Health Plan, those who are on Supplemental Security Income, as well as for veterans.

Appointing a Caregiver

According to the OHA, a designated caregiver must have the “significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition.” A caregiver is designated as the person responsible for managing the well-being of a person who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition on that person’s application for a registry identification card or in other written notification submitted to the OHA. There is no application fee for caregivers.  

Acquiring Your Medicine

As of Jan. 1, 2017, medical marijuana dispensaries may only sell to patients and caregivers registered with the OMMP. Since adult-use legalization in Oregon, the number of dispensaries has dwindled from 425 exclusively medical marijuana dispensaries to only two currently registered in the state, according to Modie. Registered patients are permitted to possess larger amounts of cannabis and also pay a lower tax rate.  

Featured image: Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Patients may grow for themselves or designate an individual at least 21 years old to act as a grower. A patient and caregiver together may possess up to six mature plants and 12 immature plants at a time.  A patient or caregiver may possess up to:

  • 24 ounces, or 680 grams, of usable marijuana;
  • 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of medical cannabinoids in solid form
  • 72 fluid ounces, or 2.13 liters, of medical cannabinoid in liquid form
  • 16 ounces, or 454 grams, of concentrate, and;
  • 5 grams of cannabinoid extracts

Rules for Patients Visiting from Other States (Reciprocity)

There are no reciprocity rules that allow patients from other states to purchase medical marijuana products in Oregon. To purchase medical marijuana or medical-grade cannabis products in Oregon, you must be registered as a patient with the OMMP and show proof of residency in the state.

Don Jergler is the Regional West Editor for Insurance Journal and a veteran business and real estate reporter. He has contributed coverage for the Long Beach Press Telegram, Long Beach Register, Los Angeles Times Custom Publishing and a variety of trade publications.