Last week, the Oregon Cannabis Association (OCA) hosted an Oregon Adult Use Policy Update. Speakers from both the Governor’s office and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) gave OCA members and guests an update on the process of reviewing and issuing recreational cannabis licenses, as well as other issues around implementation.
The speakers included Ivo Trummer, Oregon governor Kate Brown’s legislative director, along with Jesse Sweet and Jamie Dickinson from the OLCC and OCA Executive Director Amy Margolis. The news was mixed.
It seems like every time we have one of these events, one of the speakers casually drops a bombshell that sends ripples through Oregon’s cannabis community. Last time, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program director Andre Ourso mentioned that beginning March 1, dispensaries extracts could only buy extracts from licensed processors, and oh by the way, those licenses would not be available until June. Click the link to read how the OCA was able to address that issue and keep extracts on the shelves.
This time it was the OLCC’s turn, as Jesse Sweet told the crowd that growers who had not yet submitted a license application would not be able to get an OLCC rec license this year. Obviously this was very upsetting to the growers in the audience (and beyond) who are currently working on their license applications.
The OLCC began the licensing process with outdoor growers in an effort to capture as much of this season’s outdoor harvest as possible in the recreational system. They have licensed about 20 growers so far, with more to come. But according to Sweet, they have experienced major delays as a result of growers turning in incomplete or poorly crafted application materials.
Mr. Sweet said they will work through as many of the existing applications as they can before moving on to indoor growers, then processors, labs, wholesalers and retailers.
OCA Executive Director Amy Margolis gave an update about issues with the City of Portland. The city’s marijuana enforcement program has been placed in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) and we have experienced a number of challenges in the licensing and implementation process.
Most recently, ONI announced that public events where cannabis is consumed onsite, or where free samples are given away, violate city regulations. The city has said that they will begin taking enforcement action against the organizers of these types of events.
Portland is the hub of Oregon’s cannabis industry and home to many events of this type, so this is a huge concern. And with all of the other advertising and marketing restrictions with which we are saddled, the ability offer these types of events is even more important.
Ms. Margolis and the OCA political affairs team have been working closely with the city since this announcement to find a way for the cannabis community to continue to host these types of events. It appears that they have found a solution that will allow these types of events to continue, so stay tuned.
The appearance by Ivo Trummer marks the first time a representative of the governor’s office participated in one of these events. This reflects the increased engagement that we have seen from the governor’s office over the last few months.
The governor’s main cannabis priorities, according to Mr. Trummer, are (1) revenue, (2) public safety, and (3) assuring that Oregon businesses continue to participate in Oregon’s cannabis industry.
To those ends, Mr. Trummer announced that the governor had recently hired Jeffrey Rhoades, a veteran Multnomah County prosecutor, to serve as senior adviser on cannabis issues and policy.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, Mr. Rhoades will “create responsive regulations in what is still a new industry. Jeff will be mindful of my focus on public safety, user awareness and educating youth as this burgeoning new business sector takes root,”
While cannabis is primarily a state-level concern in Oregon, both local and federal issues remain. The governor’s office is not currently engaged with local issues, although they are watching to see how these issues unfold.
The governor does continue to work with Oregon’s federal delegation, particularly on issues around banking. She hopes to see some progress on baking issues soon. According to Mr. Trummer, the governor understands the strength of Oregon’s cannabis brand and hopes to work with Oregon’s cannabis industry to become a major force in the national market.
As our industry continues to grow and evolve, we will need to continue to work closely with both elected officials and regulators to assure that our system functions for all stakeholders. Events like this one serve to connect our government with our cannabis community, and to assure that the community stays informed and engaged with the political and regulatory processes.
I encourage you to join the OCA and/or other similar organizations to facilitate this process in your state and locality.
Matt Walstatter and his wife, Meghan, are the owners of Pure Green, a patient owned and operated dispensary in Portland, Oregon. They have jointly owned and operated cultivation centers since 2001. Their dispensary opened in 2013. Matt can be reached at (971) 242-8561 or [email protected]
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