In an attempt to rein in the industry, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will be reviewing rule changes that range from a single word to barring medical growers from changing their licenses to recreational if there is a glut of cannabis.
In the three years since recreational cannabis became legal, the market has undergone changes as it matures, and the proposed rule amendments reflect changes suggested by lawmakers, the OLCC and the industry. The current spate of changes are designed to address diversion from the legal market to the black market, hemp growers, the handling of cannabis that needs to be destroyed because of pests or pesticides, lowering the amount medical card holders can purchase each day and how long companies must hold onto video of their operations, said Bryant Haley, OLCC rules coordinator.
Have an opinion?
Anyone interested in commenting on the proposed rules has until 5 p.m. Nov. 30 to submit them via email to email@example.com .
“I appreciate the amendments,” said Marissa Rodriguez, a compliance officer with The Sweet Life, a wholesale distribution firm in Portland. “It feels like the OLCC is really listening to us in the industry and trying to make adjustments to mature the rules. They have to make rules because of the Legislature changes every year. They have to be very nimble. We’re still early in the industry.”
The commission will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss the proposed rule changes that have been discussed three times by members of the community, industry and the OLCC.
“Our entire approach has been to bring this industry above ground to make it legit,” Haley said.
“Each year we see what works and what doesn’t, and we learn what affects licenses.”
As of Wednesday, there were 4,391 recreational license applications for producers, processors, wholesalers, laboratories and retailers statewide and 2,079 licenses issued. In Deschutes County, the OLCC has applications for two labs, 38 processors, 97 producers, 39 retailers and 20 wholesalers.
Some of the proposed rule changes:
• Give the OLCC authority to deny an application that is missing information, materials or fees.
• Amend the camera coverage requirement for the surveillance of waste cannabis products and propose a tiered sanction schedule for missing recordings.
• Clarify what activities are allowed during a license suspension.
• Sunset the clause that allows edibles manufacturers to make product in a shared kitchen.
Meghan Walstatter, owner of Pure Green, a Portland cannabis retail outlet and member of the Rules Advisory Committee, said the rules need fine-tuning because, as the industry grows and seeks more transparency, new issues emerge.
“The OLCC is learning as it is going and is seeing places where we can improve transparency in the system and make the seed-to-sale system improved,” Walstatter said. “There’s pressure from the Legislature and from U.S. Attorney Billy Williams because product is being found out of state.”
Working with the OLCC since the start of the recreational market, Rodriguez, who also is a member of the rules committee, said she hopes the OLCC changes the rule that requires retailers to lock away their product in a vault every evening. “We have robust security systems,” she said. “Why not let them do their job? It’s a big labor suck for the retailer. It will make it easier for tracking.”
Jesse Bontecou, Oregon Retailers Cannabis Association membership services director, said the proposed rule changes are on the whole reasonable, but some ignore the burdensome reporting requirements around manifests, transportation and inventory storage. The association, which represents 300 cannabis businesses, has been tracking the proposed amendments.
“While not perfect, the OLCC is doing its best to negotiate a very difficult situation with too few resources,” Bontecou said. “It is building a regulatory system for a multibillion-dollar industry that is not federally legal and beset by an immense number of irrational and confounding federal policies.”