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Statewide marijuana business conference Saturday in Ashland

Billed as a “Special One-Day Cannabis Crash Course,” the giant Marijuana Business Conference this Saturday at Ashland Hills Hotel is almost sold out, with 600 attendees — and will cover all the big topics, especially the complex new rules from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) on recreational pot.

The conference features many of the main players in the budding industry:

• Attorneys Robert Graham and Anthony Johnson on how wholesalers, growers, processors and retailers can be approved and keep their marijuana business licenses, including fees, residency, reporting and renewing. Graham, of Grants Pass, has for years represented clients in both civil and criminal law of pot. Johnson is director of New Approach Oregon, which spearheaded Measure 91 to legalize recreational weed.

• Rep. Peter Buckley, who has put much work into a smooth transition to legal weed in Oregon, will speak at the conclave, touching on the controversial proposal, sought by OLCC, to ban sales of medical and recreational pot at the same location. The industry doesn’t support it. He will also address the pros and cons of the proposed rule requiring business owners to be a resident of the state for a certain period (Colorado requires two years or residency). Also speaking is Rep. Ann Lininger, a native Ashlander, now representing the Lake Oswego area.

• Portland lawyer Lee Berger and Medford retailer Brie Malarkey on checking IDs, signage, reporting, filing taxes and how to apply for a license.

• Cedar Gray of Williams and Paul Loney, a lawyer in Ashland and Portland on canopy limits, inspections, tracing, reporting and auditing. Pot pioneer Gray is President of Oregon Sungrown Growers’ Guild, Oregon’s largest grower/patient advocacy organization and is a member of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee.

Speakers will also cover safety rules, packaging, testing, labeling, insurance and myriad regulations on processing, including edibles, topicals and extracts. They’ll analyze complex land-use regulations and local ordinances banning sales, as recently enacted in Medford. The issue of increased use of power will be addressed by the Eugene Water & Electric Board.

“This is for everyone who is already in business or thinking about it,” says event organizer Alex Rogers of Ashland. “It’s such a new time now and so much is getting radically shaken up because of the new OLCC regulations. It’s important because there’s so much disinformation out there. We will allow hours of questioning.”

While “opportunities are definitely abounding” in the industry, not just for growers, but wholesalers, dispensaries and other areas, says Rogers, owner of Ashland Alternative Health, the prohibition of sales by local governments is unfortunate and will harm the industry — but only temporarily, he says.

“We would like them to be sensible. This will go to a vote of the county or a lawsuit to the Oregon Supreme Court and ultimately, Medford will lose out,” says Rogers. “It’s not going to be forever. The people’s voice will be heard … A lot of reactionary things will happen. In time, it won’t matter if your backyard smells like pot. If you want to take the criminality out of marijuana, then decriminalize it. It’s always two steps forward, one step back.”

OLCC will begin accepting applications for growing, processing, wholesaling and retail sales of marijuana on Jan. 4.

More information is available at the event website, oregonmbc.com.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.