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Oregon Liquor Control Commission Releases Marijuana Policy Recommendations

Thursday, March 05, 2015

 

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has released its recommendations for the policy that will guide regulation of recreational marijuana. 

The OLCC’s highest priority is making sure minors do not have access to marijuana.

“It is not age discrimination to enforce age restrictions against minors consuming alcohol," the commission wrote in its recommendations. "The same should be made clear for enforcing marijuana age restrictions.” 

The OLCC has also decided to clarify the definition of marijuana leaves saying, leaves are “everything that is not florae or immature plant.”  

They are also concerned about home delivery saying, “Does the legislature want to allow home delivery?” In 2014 Brad Tuttle for Time magazine wrote a feature on marijuana delivery services in Seattle, Washington. “Placing an order for a pot delivery is now as easy as dialing up for a pizza.”

And what about marijuana lounges and bars? The OLCC raises the question should marijuana use be allowed at lounges if it is not served and sold, or should those potential social uses be banned?

When the measure actually goes into effect in July, an individual can possess up to eight (8) oz of marijuana per residence and can home grow of up to four (4) plants per residence in Oregon. 

Make your voice heard at the last two OLCC marijuana listening sessions, held in Newport on March 11th, and Portland on March 12th. 

For more information on the OLCC listening sessions click HERE

 

Related Slideshow: 7 Things Oregon Can Learn from Legal Marijuana in Washington

In the wake of what many business owners, lobbyists and advocates call a rocky implementation of recreational marijuana in Washington, Oregon regulators have the opportunity to learn from their neighbor to the north. 

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Engage Medicinal Marijuana Industry Experts  

Washington has been criticized for not incorporating the medicinal marijuana industry or its experts, in its transition to legalization.

“Give all of the people who are legally in the medical marijuana system an easy path, keep people in place,” lobbyist Geoff Sugerman said. 

By being the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana in 1998, Oregon has the advantage of a fully functional supply chain of medicinal growers and retailers

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Connect Growers and Retailers 

Washington Retailers say at first it was hard to find newly licensed marijuana growers. The state can help the fledgling industry by helping to better connect producers and retailers, Cannabis City in-store manager Amber McGowan said. 

Regulating wholesalers is another way to go between growers and retailers, McGowan said. 

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Phase in Retail and Production Permits together 

By proportionately phasing in retail and pot farming permits, Oregon can prevent both the short supply and flooded market that Washington experienced.  In July, retailers sold out in days, while the approved growers scrambled to meet the demand. According to McGowan,  there are too many growers and not enough retailers to sell to now. 

“There are too many farmers going out of business because there are not enough people to sell their product,” McGowan said. “To make it super successful, don’t over saturate the market with growers.”

Solstice Grown grower Alex Cooley advocates not putting a cap on the number of licenses issued at all. 

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Avoid Heavy Taxation 

In Washington, growers pay an excise tax of 25 percent tax between grower and processor, another 25 percent tax between processor and retailer, and another 25 percent between retailer and customer. 

This means a gram of marijuana, which goes for less than $10 on the black market, goes for $25 in retail stores, Cannabis City's Amber McGowan said. 

This price differential is driving customers to the black market, critics say. 

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Don't Use a Lottery System 

To limit the number of retail stores per county, would-be retailers entered a lottery through Washington's regulators to determine who was eligible to apply for a permit.

Critics say the lottery system cut out qualified retailers, some who had experience from the medical cannabis industry, while allowing unqualified people to set up shop. 

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Talk to Cities and Counties 

Taking into account the laws specific to counties and municipalities will be essential to Oregon’s success in implementation, William Simpson of Northwest Producers and Processors Association.

“The single largest mistake we could make is not talking to the attorney generals, cities and counties about moratoriums and what would be allowed,” Simpson said. In Washington, some license holders were unable to open due to county moratoriums and bans. 

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Treat the Industry like Agriculture 

Grower Alex Cooley argues that because marijuana is a plant, it should be regulated like an agricultural crop, taking into consideration harvest cycles. Washington suffered a short supply in July, and then a flooded market following the harvest of outdoor crops in the fall. 

Cooley urges Oregon regulators to allow crops on farm land, as some Washington cities are now banning grow operations within city limits. 

“It’s a plant, it should grow in the sun, not in a warehouse in Seattle,” he said.

 
 

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