Search Results for: Oregon Liquor Control Commission

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Licensing Director Message: Marijuana Licensing Streamlining Update

January 8, 2021

A Phased Approach

Early in 2020 because interest to enter Oregon’s expanding recreational marijuana market continued to grow, it became clear that we needed a new approach for processing marijuana license applications. In response, my staff and I conducted a program evaluation in March 2020, to identify opportunities for improvement throughout the licensing program. Aside from the need for our staffing resources to grow to match the industry’s requirements (which we will continue to address with our legislative partners) we developed a formal year-long improvement strategy outlined below in three phases.

Phase 1: Streamlined license renewal process (Complete)

This included reducing the complexity of renewal applications, making licensing system updates and updating internal processes regarding renewals. Improvements to our renewal system went live August 4, 2020.

Outcome: Marijuana license renewals process times have been reduced from an average of 347 days from submission in Q4 2019, to 156 days from submission in Q4 2020. Current licensees should realize these improvements at their next renewal period occurring after August 4, 2020.

 

Phase 2: Removal of Pre-licensing Inspections and streamlining workflows (Complete)

In April 2020, the Commission eliminated the requirement to conduct pre-licensing onsite inspections before issuing a license, and during last summer we made improvements to licensing workflows by reducing redundant routine reviews of work and providing more empowerment to staff. Our evaluation showed this was taking as much as 40-50% of the processing time for new applications; these improvements removed that constraint.

Outcome: Marijuana license application process times from assignment have been reduced from an average of 168 days in Q4 2019 to the average of 61 days in Q4 2020.

 

Phase 3: Entrusting the Industry (Complete)

The overall philosophy of this change was rethinking how we address marijuana licensing. Specifically, phase 3 changes reduced the level of scrutiny for applicants who have already been vetted and previously licensed. Further, the agency reassigned personnel and added contract workers to solely focus on licensing activity. The Commission also approved “streamlining licensing,” rule changes at our October 15, 2020 Commission meeting.

Outcome: License application processing times approved during the month of December 2020, averaged 54 days from the date of assignment. These tangible changes have reduced the back and forth between applicants and the Commission.

 

The Readiness Checklist: Who’s ready? Who’s not?

In addition, we’ve implemented a new process to provide us more insight into applicants within our applicant pool by utilizing a request for assignment form (aka “The Readiness Checklist”). This process helps identify a marijuana license applicant’s desire to be assigned and enables them to self-determine their readiness to complete the license process within the required 60 day period.

As of November 16, 2020, my staff has reached out to all 881 “pre-pause” applicants, to determine their desire and readiness to be assigned. Pre-pause applicants include applications submitted prior to the June 15, 2018, pause on processing licenses. As of January 5, 2021, we have:

  • 319 or approximately 36% of the 881 applications are ready to be assigned
  • 360 or approximately 40% of applicants have said they are not ready
  • These applicants have delayed assignment by an average of 5 months.
  • 139 applicants not respond at all.
  • 49 application withdrawals.
  • The remaining 14 are in process.

As of January 6, 2021, we have assigned all applicants who’ve requested to be assigned as of that date. Additionally, as we receive requests for assignments, now we are consistently able to assign applications within two to four weeks of receiving the request for assignment form.

In addition to this progress on new marijuana license applications, we have been able to reduce the time it takes to assign change requests (e.g. location, ownership, etc.) from four to six months in Q3 2019, to approximately two months in Q3 2020. Moving forward, while we further refine our processes, our standard is to be able to assign these requests within 60 days of receiving them.

Regarding the non-responsive applicants, we’ve reached out to each one and subsequently followed up with those applicants prior to December 12, 2020 in order to provide a final opportunity for them to respond before inactivating their application.

Industry members and applicants should ensure they are monitoring any communications from the Commission and double check that the contact information affiliated with the license application is up to date.

 

The New Year: What’s next?

Earlier this year, OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks committed to reducing the backlog of license applications by one third by February 1, 2021; at the time he made that pledge that meant reducing our application pool by a total of 350 applications. The progress we have demonstrated leads me to believe we will meet, or come close to, accomplishing that goal. Should we not be able to, this will be in large part due to the number of applicants who’ve indicated they’re not ready to be assigned. As mentioned above, we are assigning applications within two to four weeks of receiving a request for assignment form. The average time to process a license application once it’s assigned was 61 days in Q4 2020; that’s a significant reduction and close to the new standard we’ve set.

With the changes we’ve made this year and at the current pace that we receive license applications, this should not be difficult to maintain going forward. These accomplishments truly deliver what the industry asked us to address, both in timeliness and predictability. We hope this serves as an example of how we will continue to work with the industry and to strive to improve and make Oregon a leader in the cannabis industry and a model for cannabis regulation.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback and guidance that will help us collectively make constructive improvements to the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program.

Jason Hanson

OLCC Director of Licensing

Jason.hanson@oregon.gov

 

 

Audio From Oregon Liquor Control Commission Meeting On Vaping Rules

OREGON: Special Oregon Liquor Control Commission Meeting Audio from October 11, 2019: Discussion of Vaping Rules.OLCC Special Meeting Notes

Friday, October 11, 2019

AUDIO

Staff presentation of the issues and 
Commissioners discussion and decision of vaping rules.

For more information, contact: 503-872-5006 / 1-800-452-6522

laura.paul@oregon.gov

Commission Meeting Calendar

Oregon Health Authority & Oregon Liquor Control Commission Will Hold Press Conference On Temporary Vaping Ban

Agencies Will Explain Temporary Rules & Implementation Process for Banning the Sale of Flavored Nicotine and THC Vaping Products

OREGON: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will hold a joint press conference Friday, October 11, 2019to discuss the adoption of temporary rules resulting from an Executive Order issued by Oregon Governor Kate Brown to address the vaping health crisis.

Leadership and staff from the OLCC and OHA’s Public Health Division will explain the implications of and the implementation process of their respective temporary rules which establish a temporary ban on the sale of flavored nicotine and THC vaping products.

The press conference will take place approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the OLCC Commission’s special meeting, and will be held in the Commission meeting room at OLCC headquarters in Portland.

There will NOT be a public live audio or video feed from the press conference.

The OLCC special commission meeting will start 11:30 AM.

The OLCC Headquarters is located at: 9079 SE McLoughlin Blvd, Portland, OR 97222.

 

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Seeks Input On Recreational Marijuana Regulations

OREGON: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will hold several Rules Advisory Committees (RACs) beginning in late summer and continuing into this fall. The purpose of an advisory committee is to increase the public’s involvement in the drafting and development of administrative rules.

These meetings will focus on reviewing legislative changes made during the 2019 session and address other issues that have arisen within the licensed and regulated marijuana industry.

In order to fill the RACs, the Commission is asking licensees, partner agencies and businesses associated with the cannabis industry, to apply to be on the committees.

The Commission will use this recruitment process to obtain fresh perspectives on both the condition of the industry’s operating environment and the current state of the rules and regulatory process.

To apply to be considered for appointment to the committee please fill out this survey by August 1, 2019.

The Commission will review all responses and fill the membership of the committees in a manner that best represents the industry and reflects a wide range of perspectives on industry issues.

Following the completion of the committee work, the Commission will hold both a Public Hearing and provide a subsequent two-week comment period in order to acquire additional perspectives on the proposed changes considered by the committees.

Stakeholders and other interested parties will be notified about all committee and hearing dates, and the information will be published on the Commissions’ website.

Click here to apply for the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Program RACs.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Releases Marijuana Policy Recommendations

OREGON:  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.”

Marijuana Listening Tour: Oregon Liquor Control Commission Announces Two Stops In Eastern Oregon

OREGON:  The day after Oregon voters said yes to legalized marijuana last fall, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission chairman pledged to hit the road to hear what Oregonians have to say about what the industry should look like.

The agency is still pinning down dates and location for seven of the nine stops in the statewide “listening tour,” but the first two are already set: Baker City and Pendleton.

The liquor control commission will hold a meeting at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 22 at the Baker City Armory, 1740 Campbell St. It will meet at 7 p.m. that day at the Pendleton Convention Center, 1601 Westgate St.

Future stops are planned in Eugene, Bend, Salem, Portland, Ashland, Klamath Falls and the Oregon Coast. The details of those stops are still being worked out, said Karynn Fish, a spokeswoman for marijuana programs at the liquor control commission.

 

OLCC Commission Modifies Cannabis License Violations

Changes reflect industry maturation, OLCC regulatory evolution

Commissioners get glimpse of cannabis equity legislation impact on agency

OREGON:  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has taken additional action to ensure that recreational marijuana license violations better reflect the current cannabis regulatory environment compared to regulations put in place five years ago when the cannabis industry launched in Oregon. At its regular monthly meeting on April 8, 2021, the Commission also formally approved streamlining changes to processing marijuana licenses, an approach OLCC staff have already begun implementing.

In addition OLCC Commissioners learned about likely impacts affecting the agency if cannabis social equity legislation is approved by the Oregon legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown. Commissioners also approved three stipulated settlements for recreational marijuana license violations.

OLCC regulations approved in 2016, at the onset of adult-use cannabis in Oregon, aligned with guidance in the since rescinded U.S. Department of Justice Cole Memorandum, and served as appropriate guard rails for an emerging industry. The changes just approved by the Commission better reflect the regulatory oversight needed for a maturing industry.

Some of the changes assign a different category to a violation if the violation was unintentional instead of intentional. For instance, now if a surveillance camera fails licensees have more time to inform the OLCC about the problem. Another change eliminates the compounding effect of a single violation when a producer fails to notify the OLCC of a marijuana harvest; previously the OLCC assessed a separate violation each additional day the producer failed to tell regulators.

The Commission also ratified changes in the marijuana license application process designed to speed up approvals. Those changes include boosting the ownership threshold for an applicant from 10 to 20 percent, allowing more flexibility for approving business structure changes, and eliminating the pre-licensing inspection requirement prior to issuing a license.

Oregon House Bill 3112 redresses criminal and economic consequences suffered by Black, LatinX and Indigenous Oregonians related to cannabis criminalization. A member of the coalition supporting The Oregon Cannabis Equity Act outlined for Commissioners how the measure would create economic opportunity for previously disenfranchised populations by reducing regulatory costs, and establishing an equity license for individuals who have previous marijuana criminal convictions, or are from Black, LatinX or Indigenous groups.

HB 3112 would create two other license types: a delivery license and a social (on-premises) consumption license. The delivery license would allow deliveries outside the city or county of a delivery business’ location, and it would also allow delivery to a hotel, both activities that are currently prohibited.

Commissioners also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

NEBULA CANNABIS in Portland will pay a $1,155 fine OR serve a seven day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for one violation.

Licensee is: Haramkhor, LLC; Krishna Kumar, Member.

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS in Portland will pay a $5,280 fine OR serve a 32-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Alternative Solutions 1, Inc.; Donald VanWormer, President/Director/Stockholder; Brenda Lingle, Secretary/Director.

GRIZZILLA FARMS will surrender its marijuana producer license on the date the transfer of ownership of the business is completed or on July 30, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Licensees are: Grizzilla Farms, LLC; Mark Aguilar, Manager/Member.

Commission Starts Effort to Limit Unchecked Use of Delta-8-THC, Other Artificially-Derived Cannabinoids

Concern grows about easy access to intoxicants at neighborhood convenience stores

OREGON:  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has initiated rule making for Delta-8-THC and other psychoactive components of hemp and marijuana that currently fall outside the adult-use cannabis market’s system of testing and labeling. At their regular monthly meeting on March 18, 2021, Commissioners expressed concern about the general availability of this unregulated intoxicating product. The Commission also approved three stipulated settlements for violations committed by OLCC recreational marijuana licensees.

Delta-8-THC has recently emerged for sale nationwide, including in the supply chain of the OLCC recreational marijuana market, as well as in unregulated brick and mortar convenience stores and internet websites. Delta-8-THC is present in marijuana, but the OLCC only regulates Delta-9-THC produced in marijuana. When consumed by humans Delta-8-THC produces an effect (“high”) similar to Delta-9-THC.

Delta-8-THC can also be created from hemp, which is regulated under the federal Farm Bill of 2018. Typically, hemp-derived Delta-8-THC is converted from CBD through a chemical process, which also produces a large proportion – as high as 30 – 50% – of unknown byproducts. Delta-8-THC created from hemp can be found in food products and sprayed on hemp flower.

Delta-8-THC isn’t addressed in Oregon statutes, isn’t included in Oregon Health Authority marijuana concentration limits, and there’s no testing for the Delta-8-THC or the by-products included in its chemical conversion. But Delta-8 products are currently widely available for purchase outside the OLCC adult-use market, even by children.

“When this was brought to my attention alarm bells went off in my head,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Commission Chair. “You have minors going into grocery stores and they understand very well what this is all about. And let me tell you, if there’s a way to find it, people will do it.”

OLCC’s proposed rule-making would only address the presence of Delta-8-THC and other artificially-derived cannabinoids in products grown, manufactured and sold in Oregon’s recreational marijuana market. But for OLCC and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to take effective action on total THC measurement and tamp down the availability of such products to minors, legislative action is required.

“We don’t have sufficient authority over total THC in Oregon,” said Steve Marks, OLCC Executive Director. “But until we get that and ability to do final product testing to help get these things into the right markets where they’re supposed to be, either in the unregulated hemp CBD market or into our market it’s going to be hard.”

Marks observed that all states are facing the issue of how to regulate Delta-8-THC, but that Oregon is at the forefront in addressing it. Regulatory gaps do remain surrounding the broader issue of intoxicating hemp cannabinoid products in the general marketplace that can be legally sold to minors, and who should be responsible for regulating those products.

“Unregulated hemp has no final product testing,” said Marks. “They only test for Delta-9 in the field. You can’t regulate what you don’t test for. We’re talking about two species of the same plant. And that means that federal and state regulators need to harmonize their oversight of this plant, and work towards across-the-board testing of marijuana and hemp products designed for human consumption before they enter the marketplace.”

The House General Government Committee of the Oregon Legislature is expected to take up the Delta-8-THC issue at a public hearing on Thursday, March 25, where it could consider legislation ensuring that all intoxicating THC products, properly tested and labeled, are sold within the OLCC regulated system and also ban the sale of currently non-regulated Delta-8-THC products to minors under age 21.

The Commission also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

STONEY ONLY PORTLAND will surrender its recreational marijuana retailer licenseon the date the sale/transfer of the business is completed, or by 12:00 PM on June 16, 2021, whichever is earlier for two violations.

Licensee is: Stoney Only Portland, LLC; Joseph Babb, Member; Ragna TenEyck, Member; Michael Mullins, Member.

HERB N’ SPRAWL will pay a $4,950 fine and serve a two-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR serve a 32-day license suspension for one violation.

Licensees are: Prairie Song Organics, LLC; Yotokko Kilpatrick, Member; Rick Saga, Member.

DEEP ROOTS CANNABIS in Springfield will pay a fine of $3,465  OR serve a 21-day recreational marijuana wholesaler license suspension for one violation.

Licensees are: Premier Concepts, LLC; Mary Jane Wilson, Member; Susie Polen, Member; Braden Smith, Manager.

OLCC Commission Bans Some Additives from Cannabis Vaping Products

Additives linked to potential harm to cannabis consumers

More transparent ingredient disclosure required going forward

OREGON:  At its regular monthly meeting on December 17, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission banned two ingredients immediately from further use in cannabis vaping products — squalene and squalane. In addition, the Commission approved rules designed to provide better protection for cannabis consumers by requiring recreational marijuana licensees provide more transparent disclosure of, screening for, and labeling of inhalable cannabinoid products that use non-cannabis additives. The Commission also ratified five stipulated settlements.

The action taken against squalene and squalane comes in the wake of an OLCC investigation (see December 11, 2020 press release) that uncovered the use of those ingredients in cannabinoid vaping products sold in Oregon. The OLCC found that squalene and squalane were not disclosed as ingredients and were included on product labels as “natural flavors.” Studies, including one commissioned by the OLCC, have shown that squalene and squalane can produce harmful chemicals when exposed to heat and inhaled, posing potential harm to consumer health.

If the OLCC discovers any remaining products in the marketplace that contain squalene or squalane, those products will be subject to an immediate recall, a provision included in the new rules. Squalene and squalane join Vitamin E acetate on OLCC’s list of banned adulterants; as a result of the Commission’s actions, propylene glycol (PG) and triglycerides, like MCT oil, will be added to the list effective April 1, 2021.

The Commission began examining the impact of non-cannabis additives in the wake of the e-cigarette use-associated lung injury (EVALI) health crisis in mid-2019. During 2020, the OLCC held a series of discussions with cannabis industry stakeholders, public health officials and OLCC cannabis licensees to contemplate an approach for identifying and screening out non-cannabis ingredients added to cannabis products that pose a potential danger to human health. A framework for applying those standards was used to create the rules.

The approved rules will help the Commission protect health and safety by compelling greater ingredient disclosure, and to address both the acute and chronic health effects of additive ingredients when heated and inhaled by specifying the standards for non-cannabis additives being used in inhalable cannabinoid products. Because of the disclosure requirements, licensees and consumers will have greater assurance that any additives used in cannabis vape products were manufactured with the intent that they would be inhaled.

The rules take effect December 22, 2020, and the OLCC on that date will immediately begin accepting label applications under new rules for inhalable cannabinoid products. The Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) will be updated by that time to include a category for designating inhalable cannabinoid products.

Any inhalable cannabinoid products made on or after April 1, 2021, will be subject to the new rules, including no use of PG or MCT and full disclosure of additive ingredients on the item’s label. By April 1, all inhalable cannabinoid products (regardless of manufacture date) must also be tracked in CTS with disclosure of the additive mix used in the cannabinoid product.

From April 1 to July 1, 2021, OLCC recreational marijuana licensees are allowed to “sell down” any inhalable cannabinoid products made before April 1, 2021. Beginning July 1, 2021, all inhalable cannabinoid products in the marketplace must comply with the new rules and standards, and anything that does not comply, regardless of manufacture date, must be destroyed.

The Commission also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

SHADOWBOX FARMS (#1467A) will serve an 32-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR pay a fine of $5,280 for one violation.

Licensee is: Rogue Valley Group, LLC; Tim Winner, Manager; Artemis Group, LLC, Member; Joseph Bundy, Member; Megan Bundy, Member; Bryan Bundy, Member.

FLOWERSMITH will serve a 14-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR pay a fine of $2,310 for two violations.

Licensees are: Flowersmith, LLC; Samuel Felton, Member; Gavin Henner, Member

BLACK MARKET DISTRIBUTION will serve a 69-day recreational marijuana wholesaler license suspension OR pay a fine of $11,385 for three violations.

Licensees are: Black Market Distribution, LLC; Aaron Mitchell, Member; Rosa Cazares, Manager.

COPPERHEAD ORGANIC FARMS will surrender its license at the earlier of the date of transfer of ownership of the business or February 19, 2021 for four violations.

Licensees are: CH Organics, LLC; Corey Tarr, Member; Debra Davis Estate, Member.

Oregon: OLCC Commission Greenlights Solution For Streamlining License Applications

Commission supports “fix-it ticket” approach for minor compliance violations

Marijuana license stipulated settlements approved

OREGON: At its regular monthly meeting on October 15, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission moved forward with plans to streamline the agency’s recreational marijuana licensing process and adjust compliance and enforcement activity through a Verification of Compliance (VOC) program. The Commission also approved five marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements.

OLCC has been challenged to timely issue marijuana licenses since April 2016, due to the continued interest in the recreational market. Personnel and technology support have not kept pace with license applications that quickly shot past the initial projection of 800 licenses and now number more than 2,300.

As the industry has matured, the agency’s ability to regulate it has evolved and the OLCC has modified its licensing process several times in an attempt to streamline. This latest licensing process adjustment attempts to make it easier for applicants to begin operating before the final approval of changes in ownership and financial interest changes in a licensed business.

Likening the existing license process to a freeway that squeezes from 10 lanes down to two, the Chair of the Commission cautioned that efficiencies made through continuous adjustments to the licensing process would not be enough to address the long term licensing challenge.

“We’re not kidding ourselves, if we don’t get the manpower, the back end is going to be two lanes regardless of the ten lanes up front,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Chair. “If we don’t get the budget, we’re not going to solve this issue.”

For now, this licensing catch-up attempt will be similar to past efforts where staff were reallocated to the licensing division. Under this push to catchup, 16 OLCC staff members will be temporarily reassigned to licensing.

In addition to approving a temporary rule allowing the license process change, the Commission also initiated the permanent rulemaking process, which will expand the scope of the streamlining, as well as provide an opportunity for industry input.

The Commission also initiated the permanent rule making process for the new Verification of Compliance (VOC) program. The VOC program, which launched October 1, 2020, provides licensees with an opportunity to fix problems and avoid more severe penalties.

See Recreational Marijuana Program Compliance Education Bulletin 2020-05 for more information on the Verification of Compliance program.

The Commission also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

GREENRIDGE AGRONOMY will serve a 65-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR pay a fine of $5,775 AND serve a 30-day license suspension cfor six violations.

Licensee is: GreenRidge Agronomy, LLC; Stanley Tamiyasu, Member; Brandon Pierson, Member.

HEALING GREEN DISPENSARY in Independence will surrender its marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Healing Green, LLC; Michael Hecht, Member.

KAYA FARMS (#A8DF) will surrender its recreational marijuana processor license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Sunstone Marketing Partners, LLC; Robert Frey, Member/Manager.

KAYA FARMS (#035C) will surrender its recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.

Licensees are: Sunstone Marketing Partners, LLC; Robert Frey, Member/Manager.

UPMQUA GREEN CROSS in Roseburg will surrender its recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for seven violations.

Licensees are: Umpqua Green Cross, LLC; Edward Allen, Member.