The Senate revisited an issue that recently failed the Senate floor. In a contentious debate early-April, the Senate, on a 13-17 vote rejected Senate Bill 218A, a bill to place a temporary moratorium on new Oregon Liquor Control Commission marijuana production licenses.

The bill was identified as a key step to addressing the six and a half year oversupply of marijuana in Oregon.

Bill carrier, Senator Michael Dembrow, in his floor speech, called out Oregon’s exceptional agricultural production opportunities and noted that it has caused a substantial issue when it comes to marijuana, “there’s a lot of concern that this oversupply is harming the legal market and is leaking into the black market. That has become a real problem.”

General opposition against the bill in debate centered around limiting the free market and the capital at risk to those in process of becoming licensed. Senator Herman Baertschiger said of the bill, “this is about picking winners and losers.”

Senator Lee Beyer, in his floor speech, called out the oddity of limiting production and regulating a legal crop, “it makes legal products. We don’t regulate these kinds of things, or we don’t limit entry into the business market on them.” Beyer continued, “how many of us would want to go out and limit the number of winery licenses, or brew-pub licenses? This is no different, Mr. President.”   

After robust discussion, the bill was denied, but leadership moved for the bill to be sent to the Senate Committee on Rules for further consideration. On April 22, the bill was amended to include a firm sunset of January 22, 2022, and passed the Senate committee on a 4-1 vote. SB 218B, on its second attempt to clear the Senate floor passed on an 18-10 vote on April 29.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate