OR: Officials Propose Policy Tweak To Nudge Marijuana Stores Into Regulated Market


State officials are considering a proposal that would allow marijuana stores to sell existing inventory even after they are licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Under current rules, stores licensed by the liquor commission may only sell products from state-licensed producers and processors. Those goods are subject to strict new testing standards and are tracked under the state’s seed-to-sale system.

The proposed temporary rule would allow retailers to sell what’s already on their shelves, even if it fails to meet new testing standards. The products will be entered into the state’s tracking system.

Officials said they hope such a policy shift would motivate retailers to enter Oregon’s newly regulated market for recreational marijuana, which is expected to roll out starting Oct. 1.

Since last fall, the state has allowed Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries to sell cannabis to anyone 21 and older under a so-called early start policy administered by the Oregon Health Authority. By year’s end, all recreational sales must shift to the liquor commission.

Many retailers who plan to sell to recreational consumers aren’t in a rush to make the switch because they want to sell existing marijuana flower, cookies, other treats and concentrates and extracts.

It’s unclear how much of those products are in the system. The health authority in June began tracking marijuana moving through dispensaries, but officials said on Friday said they are still analyzing that data.

“We have heard for some time about the disincentives to come into the system,” said Steve Marks, executive director of the liquor commission, the agency charged with overseeing Oregon’s regulated recreational market.

Regulators worry the potential lack of licensed recreational retailers will have significant implications for the rest of the industry. Without enough stores, for instance, newly licensed marijuana growers and processors won’t have a market for their products, Marks said.

“We brought them into the system,” he said. “They deserve to find a place where they can get their return.”

Allowing stores to sell existing inventory also could address a potential supply problem caused by the lack of accredited labs, Marks said.

The administrator of the state agency tasked with authorizing labs to test marijuana for the recreational market said last week that the accrediting program is in crisis due to the lack of support from the health authority.

So far, the state has accredited seven labs; two have been licensed by the liquor commission.

A spokesman for the health authority on Friday said the agency this week added one full-time staff person and two part-timers, all from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, to help the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program with its work.

The program, part of the health authority’s Oregon State Public Health Laboratory, accredits labs that do environmental and water quality testing, as well as air toxics and industrial waste. Last year the program was assigned to accredit marijuana labs.

The agency works with labs in more than a dozen states and three countries, though Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the health authority, said the accrediting program also will temporarily halt its work outside of Oregon while it addresses its increased workload.

Don Morse, an owner of the Human Collective, a dispensary in Southwest Portland, said the liquor commission is “on the right track” with its policy proposal.

He said he and many other retailers had planned to delay switching to the liquor commission system so they can see how the supply shakes out.

“Something needs to be done to motivate people to go over to the retail side,” he said.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Oregon Officials Propose Policy Tweak To Nudge Marijuana Stores Into New Regulated Market
Author: Noelle Crombie
Contact: OregonLive
Photo Credit: Oregonian
Website: OregonLive