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Medical Pot Shops Bummed at Oregon's Munchies Ban

Hash brownies, space cakes and other pot-laced munchies won't be among the items allowed at Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries.
Some of the merchandise, including edible pot and other exotic products, at the Medicine Man marijuana dispensary and grow house is one of the largest in Denver, Colorado on Jan. 21, 2014. As Colorado leads the United States into unchartered territory by legalizing marijuana sales and creating laws as of January 1, 2014 that defy the federal laws against pot, this state has become a test case for the nation. Even before the new law came into effect, the issue of burglaries and breakins to pot dispensaries and grow houses was an issue, but since January 1st of this year the problem as worsened. This story looks at pot culture and the challenge of security around the newly legalized recreational and medical marijuana industry in the state of Colorado.Ed Kashi / Ed Kashi/VII

SALEM, Ore. — Hash brownies, space cakes and other pot-laced munchies won't be among the items allowed at Oregon medical marijuana dispensaries, state officials said, and that's drawn criticism from pot-shop advocates.

The Oregon Health Authority released draft rules late Wednesday for medical-pot dispensaries to follow when they open as early as next week under a new law. Although medical marijuana will be available at the dispensaries, the agency wants to ban sweets containing the drug because they could be attractive to young people.

But dispensary advocates said patients who take the drug orally need the sweetened pot products. They say a little sugar helps the bitter medicine go down.

"It just stinks," said Gary Stevenson of Portland.

Stevenson, who has cancer, said he prefers to take the marijuana in food because it's more potent and longer-lasting. As a member of the group Oreginfused Kitchen, he also makes and distributes the types of pot-infused foods that would be banned at dispensaries.

He said he doesn't want to go underground. "I'm striving for legitimacy," Stevenson said.

The regulations are designed to implement the bill SB 1531, which the Legislature passed earlier this month and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law on Wednesday. The law allows local governments to block medical marijuana stores in their communities until May 2015.

It also lets the health agency set rules requiring child-safe packaging and prohibiting products that it determines could be appealing to children.

Scott Grenfell, general manager of an already existing dispensary, said he has no problem with that part of the new rules.

But Grenfell called "stunning" the proposed rule that would ban from dispensaries all marijuana-infused products in the form of "cake-like products, cookies, candy, or gum, or that otherwise may be attractive to minors because of its shape, color, or taste."

Edible products are "a good chunk" of his business, and some patients can only take marijuana in edible form, he said. Grenfell has applied for a license for his dispensary under the new law but has not yet received a reply.

Tom Burns, director of pharmacy programs at the health agency, said the rules were written under the "strictest interpretation" of the new law and "as broadly as we could."

Burns said the rules could change in the next few days. He's taking public feedback on them — and a lot of it — but "I'm not sure what I'm going to do."

— The Associated Press