OLCC Notice of Public Hearing

Marijuana Licensing Streamlining

March 15, 2021 @ 1:00 pm

 

Presiding Officer:   Madeline Kane

Phone: 503-872-5081

Email: olcc.rulemaking@oregon.gov

 

To listen to or participate in this Public Hearing, please call: 1 (872) 240-
3311 and enter access code: 230-296-829#

Notice of Proposed Rule-making, including Statement of Need and Fiscal Impact

 

OREGON: OLCC has been inundated with applications for marijuana licenses. The growth of the industry and applicants willing to enter the market has overtaxed the agency’s resources for processing new applications and renewals of current licenses. This has created a queue that has impacted both new applicants and current licensees. For applicants, this has resulted in lengthier timeframes to be assigned which results in an increased financial burden to maintain property while waiting to operate a business. For current licensees, this impact delays their ability to adapt their business needs to industry change which results in a financial burden and in keeping pace with the burgeoning industry. Currently there are approximately 900 applications either being processed or waiting to be assigned.

 

The proposed changes address marijuana licensing process issues. This will provide relief for both licensees and OLCC resources so that OLCC will be able to integrate a more efficient process.

In order to offer oral comment, please email: OLCC.rulemaking@oregon.gov, no later than 12:00 pm on Monday, March 15, 2021. The hearing will end at 1:30 pm, if no interested parties have emailed to offer comment by 12:00 pm that morning; or 5 minutes after the last oral comment has been recorded into the record.

All written comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 2021.

 

Eaze Releases 2020 State Of Cannabis Report: “How Cannabis Consumers Responded To Crisis”

Analysis of consumer choices in 2020 across the world’s largest cannabis market offers important lessons for emerging markets nationally and globally

CALIFORNIA:  Eaze, California’s largest legal cannabis marketplace, today released its sixth annual Eaze Insights State of Cannabis Report. The 2020 report, “How Cannabis Consumers Responded to Crisis”, looks at aggregate consumer trends driving the world’s largest cannabis market in a year rocked by unprecedented cultural, economic and public health challenges.

The report aggregates Eaze’s proprietary data to illustrate the behavior of the over 400,000 consumers who purchased via the platform in 2020. With 6.5 million legal deliveries completed to-date, Eaze can offer unique insights into how 2020 impacted consumption, uncovering patterns that can be generalized to markets nationally and globally.

Key findings include:

  • Consumers relied on cannabis delivery during quarantine. Consumer demand driven by COVID-19 led to significant increases in the number of new deliveries and order size.
  • Calls for social justice elevated equity brands. 2020 saw a greater demand for social equity products, underscoring increased consumer awareness – especially among customers over age 30 – about the importance of BIPOC-owned brands.
  • Edibles won the year. Edibles became the most popular product category across major markets and age groups, reflecting the public health focus on COVID’s respiratory impacts. Cannabis drinks especially benefited from the shift to Zoom socializing.
  • A tough holiday season increased consumption. Consumers used more cannabis over the 2020 winter holidays, when many celebrated without their families.
  • Cannabis helped us stay sexy at home. Consumers increasingly relied on weed to increase their sexual satisfaction during stay-at-home orders.
  • Cannabis won the 2020 election. Cannabis legalization in Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota united voters on both sides of the aisle and outpaced presidential candidates in key states. In Arizona, Mississippi and New Jersey, cannabis got more votes than either presidential candidate. Consumer anxiety, meanwhile, fueled a demand uptick as votes were tallied.

“In this crisis year, cannabis emerged as an essential product and a unifying political issue,” said Ro Choy, CEO of Eaze. “Consumers relied on delivery during the pandemic and policymakers in emerging markets should look at the data and anticipate how robust demand for legal delivery will work in their communities. The report also shows consumer excitement for social equity brands, affirming that putting money in the pockets of BIPOC entrepreneurs is good business and a direct way to address the War on Drugs.”

The full report can be found here.

Ohio Board Of Pharmacy Updated Patient & Caregiver Numbers For December 2020

OHIO:  The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today published updated patient & caregiver numbers for December 2020. These numbers include:

  • 214,916 Recommendations
  • 160,228 Registered patients
    • 10,938 Patients with Veteran Status
    • 11,591 Patients with Indigent Status
    • 861 Patients with a Terminal Diagnosis
  • 139,458 Unique patients who purchased medical marijuana (as reported to OARRS by licensed dispensaries)
  • 18,211 Registered CaregiversFor the full list of program numbers, please visit the Program Update page.

California Cannabis Authorities Publish Proposed Regulations to Facilitate Financial Services for Cannabis Businesses

CALIFORNIA: The California state cannabis licensing authorities—Bureau of Cannabis Control, California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Department of Public Health—provided notice to the public of proposed emergency regulations to implement the provisions of Assembly Bill 1525 (Jones–Sawyer, 2020). The proposed regulations are intended to facilitate greater access to financial services for licensed cannabis businesses that face challenges obtaining banking, insurance and other financial services commonly available to other businesses.

The proposed regulations create a pathway for licensees to authorize sharing of non-public information with selected financial institutions and provide a mechanism for financial institutions to more readily conduct the federally required reviews of the cannabis business. By reducing the burden of providing financial services to cannabis businesses, more financial institutions may be willing to provide services, thereby reducing the need to keep cash on hand and improving public safety.

The proposed regulatory text and supporting documents can be viewed at the following links:

Following the required minimum five working-day notice to the public, the licensing authorities will file the emergency regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The five calendar-day formal public comment period will begin when OAL publishes the proposed regulations as being “under review” on its website.

Truss CBD USA, A HEXO Corp & Molson Coors Joint Venture, Launches Veryvell Sparkling CBD Water In Colorado

CANADA:  Truss CBD USA, a joint venture between HEXO Corp and Molson Coors Beverage Company, today announced the U.S. launch of VeryvellTM, a new line of non-alcoholic, sparkling CBD beverages, exclusively available in Colorado.

VeryvellTM is a hemp-derived, adaptogenic, sparkling CBD water now available to Colorado-based consumers in three flavours: Focus (Grapefruit Tarragon), Mind & Body (Strawberry Hibiscus) and Unwind (Blueberry Lavender). VeryvellTM is Powered by HEXOTM, the recognized quality and innovation behind award-winning products.

“We are excited to launch VeryvellTM in Colorado through Truss CBD USA, in collaboration with our partner, Molson Coors. Our joint venture with Molson Coors Canada saw Truss Beverage Brands become the number one choice for consumers in Canada and we are expecting similarly great results in the US.” said HEXO CEO and co-founder Sebastien St-Louis. “We have near-term plans to invest additional capital in the USA to support Truss CBD USA and to further execute on our Powered by HEXOTM strategy with other potential CPG partners, outside of beverages, with whom we are currently in ongoing negotiations.”

VeryvellTM is produced and distributed within Colorado state lines following the state’s established regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD in food and beverages and is exclusively distributed by Coors Distributing Company. Truss CBD USA is distinct from Truss Beverages, Molson Coors and HEXO’s joint venture in Canada that focuses on non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages.

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

 

 

Virginia Governor Northam Announces Industrial Hemp Company to Locate In Rockingham County

Governor Northam Announces Industrial Hemp Company to Locate in Rockingham County

VIRGINIA:  Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Shenandoah Valley Hemp, LLC dba Pure Shenandoah will invest nearly $3.3 million to establish an industrial hemp fiber processing and cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction facility in the historic Casey Jones building in the Town of Elkton. The company will create 24 new jobs and has committed to purchasing 100 percent of its industrial hemp from Virginia growers, resulting in nearly $5 million in payments to Virginia farmers over the next three years. Pure Shenandoah will become the first participant in the Virginia’s Finest trademark program to source the hemp used in its products exclusively from the Commonwealth.

“Virginia’s industrial hemp industry continues to experience tremendous growth, creating a wealth of opportunity across our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Projects like this one are an important part of diversifying our economy and developing new markets for industrial hemp. Our administration remains committed to supporting growers and processors as we work to ensure this crop has a sustainable future in Virginia.”

Pure Shenandoah operates as a vertically integrated “seed to sale” company providing customers with safe and consistent hemp products of the highest quality. This includes strict regulatory control of crops, the application of certified good manufacturing practices, and complete traceability of each product back to the seed and farm from which it came.

“Pure Shenandoah is a great example of the many ways we are able to help innovative, agriculture-based companies grow and thrive in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased to see continued job creation and investment in Virginia’s industrial hemp industry and excited for the new market opportunities the industry is creating for our farmers.”

“Industrial hemp is gaining momentum across the country, and we are excited for Virginia to be a player in this up-and-coming industry,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Pure Shenandoah will provide quality jobs and enable the Commonwealth’s hemp growers to source extraction and processing within Virginia, further benefiting our economy and agricultural ecosystem.”

As part of its strategic marketing efforts, Pure Shenandoah is a participating member of the Virginia’s Finest® program. Created more than 30 years ago with more than 500 participating companies, this program helps consumers know they are purchasing top-quality Virginia-produced specialty food products whenever they see the classic blue and red VA check mark logo.

“We are honored to receive these funds and to work with such influential state programs that are helping push the industrial hemp industry forward in the Commonwealth,” said Pure Shenandoah CEO Tanner Johnson. “With this support, we will continue to educate and provide safe and effective products to consumers. We are excited to do our part and help expand the future of industrial hemp and all of its potential.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Rockingham County and the Rockingham County Economic Development Authority to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor Northam approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund for the project, which Rockingham County will match with local funds. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Rockingham County is pleased with the announcement of 24 new jobs and the investment of $3.3 million in eastern Rockingham County,” said Chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Bill Kyger. “This is a new and exciting industry that offers a great opportunity to diversify the agriculture base of the county for the future.”

“We should never forget or take for granted Virginia’s tremendous agricultural heritage and its economic viability that continues to push Virginia forward,” said Senator Emmett Hanger. “I am pleased the AFID funds will further promote industrial hemp and that Pure Shenandoah is committed to exclusively sourcing Virginia agriculture products for this project. Of course, there is no better county to partner with on this funding than the number one agricultural county in the Commonwealth, Rockingham County. We are proud of our deep agricultural roots here in Virginia and this economic announcement adds yet another facet to our diverse agriculture operations.”

NH DHHS Announces Public Information Session In Chichester On Proposed Alternative Treatment Center Therapeutic Cannabis Dispensary

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has announced a public information session regarding a proposed Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) therapeutic cannabis dispensary in Chichester, NH, to be operated by Prime Alternative Treatment Centers of NH. This proposed dispensary location is responsive to Legislative intent and designed to increase patient access to the State’s Therapeutic Cannabis Program.

The public information session will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, January 5th, via ZOOM, as part of the Chichester Selectmen Meeting. Information on how to participate in the meeting remotely is posted on the Town of Chichester’s website at www.chichesternh.org/home/news/public-information-session-therapeutic-cannabis.

During the public session, officials from the DHHS Therapeutic Cannabis Program and representatives from Prime ATC will make brief presentations and answer attendees’ questions.

In 2019, the NH Legislature approved HB 335, which approved the establishment of two new therapeutic cannabis dispensaries in areas of the State where access to the currently established ATCs is limited. The new dispensaries are to be operated by Prime ATC in Region 2 (representing Hillsborough and Merrimack counties) and Temescal Wellness in Region 1 (representing Belknap, Rockingham, and Strafford counties). Prime ATC currently operates its dispensary in Merrimack. As required by HB 335, DHHS conducted a patient needs assessment Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol to determine locations that would have the greatest impact on patient access. The needs assessment identified the Concord area as a location that would best alleviate the travel burden on TCP patients in Region 2.

Cresco Labs Publishes Inaugural Seed Annual Report

Report details meaningful contributions towards restorative justice initiatives, community business incubators and educational and workforce development programming

ILLINOIS: Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated, multistate cannabis operators in the United States, is proud to publish the first annual report for its SEED (Social Equity and Educational Development) initiative. The report highlights the Company’s many achievements over the past year to help create a more diverse and inclusive cannabis industry through SEED’s restorative justice initiatives, community business incubators and educational and workforce development programming. The 2019-2020 SEED Annual Report is available online at crescolabs.com/seed.

Cresco Labs' SEED initiative conducted 13 Community Business Incubator events incubating over 250 individuals for two Illinois application periods (Photo: Business Wire)Cresco Labs’ SEED initiative conducted 13 Community Business Incubator events incubating over 250 individuals for two Illinois application periods (Photo: Business Wire)

“We are proud to have launched the cannabis industry’s first comprehensive social justice and social equity initiative and to report the significant strides the SEED program has made towards the more equitable inclusion of Black and Brown people in cannabis,” said Charlie Bachtell, CEO and Co-founder of Cresco Labs. “As we reflect on SEED’s first year successes, we recognize that this is just the beginning of a long road ahead and a tremendous amount of work is still to be done.” Our goal is to provide the time, know-how and resources to elevate more voices and foster economic opportunities for people from communities disproportionately impacted by prior drug laws. The ability of this industry to reach its maximum potential will be governed by its ability to address the social responsibility components tied to this subject matter. Our SEED team is made up of incredibly talented, hard-working individuals who are building a culture where all Cresco Labs employees are inspired to improve inclusiveness within the cannabis industry. Our SEED initiative supports our vision to be the most important company in cannabis and is helping to build the most responsible and respectable industry possible. Together, we are firmly committed to continuing the progress we’ve achieved this inaugural year into the future.”

The SEED Annual Report outlines the mission of SEED, describes its goals and initiatives, and details the efforts dedicated to the program’s success. Highlights of the 2019/2020 program include:

  • Invested over $1.5M and contributed over 2,200 Cresco Labs staff hours for more than 40 multi-tiered SEED initiatives
  • Sponsored and financially supported 22 restorative-focused events and more than 1,200 individuals seeking expungement of their records
  • Conducted SEED’s inaugural Community Business Incubator that assisted 50 businesses and over 250 individuals in total over two application periods in Illinois
  • Established 8 community and workforce development initiatives and assisted in the development of cannabis industry curriculum with 5 universities and colleges

Cresco Labs’ SEED team was the recipient of the 2020 Bill Leslie Visionary Award from Cabrini Green Legal Aid, a nonprofit established in 1973 to serve legal needs arising from the lack of opportunity, criminalization of poverty, and racial inequity experienced within the Cabrini Green community in Chicago, Illinois. This recognition reinforces the SEED initiative’s effort to build community relationships and do its part to be restorative and inclusive.

In May 2019, Cresco Labs created SEED to address the absence of people, businesses and communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs in the cannabis industry. Its mission is to develop tangible pathways into the cannabis industry for communities impacted by the War on Drugs through the three pillars of SEED: Restorative Justice, Community Business Incubator, and Education & Workforce Development. SEED’s restorative justice programming includes expungement events, lobbying to change the nation’s drug laws, and working to ensure that no person remains in prison for a cannabis conviction. Established in November 2019, Cresco’s Community Business Incubator provides qualifying social equity applicants with the resources, knowledge and guidance needed to successfully apply for adult use dispensary licenses awarded by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. SEED develops educational cannabis programming tailored to communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, as well as builds collaborative relationships with colleges and universities to develop curriculum, teach classes and host workshops to educate and prepare students for careers in cannabis.

To learn more about Cresco Labs’ SEED initiative, visit crescolabs.com/seed.

Cresco Labs Opens Tenth Illinois Sunnyside Dispensary In Naperville

The Company increases its national retail footprint to 20 operating stores

ILLINOIS: Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated, multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, announced today the opening of its tenth Illinois dispensary in the third largest city in the state, Naperville. The adult-use Sunnyside dispensary is located at 2740 W. 75th St., one of the busiest shopping areas in Naperville, a western suburb of Chicago.

 

“Our retail platform continues to outperform because we put such a premium on finding the right location for our stores, and Naperville is another example of opening a new location in the heart of one of the city’s most vibrant retail spaces—on the same block as Costco, Whole Foods and Starbucks. We are normalizing the cannabis shopping experience,” said Charlie Bachtell, Cresco Labs’ CEO and Co-founder. “With the opening of Sunnyside Naperville, we are proud to be the first cannabis operator to reach ten dispensaries in Illinois. This milestone and the acceleration of our store growth this year is a reflection of our differentiated strategy and our best-in-class ability to execute it.”

Illinois is one of the most robust cannabis markets in the country where state retail sales are on an annual run rate of more than a billion dollars.1 Sunnyside retail stores continue to command an outsized share of the market.

Sunnyside Naperville will employ nearly 40 people in the nearly 8,400 square foot dispensary featuring 12 points of sale. Adult-use customers can browse live inventory, place online orders through Sunnyside.shop and pickup orders in-store. They will receive a confirmation when their order is ready for pickup. Sunnyside Naperville requires all customers to wear masks and practice social distancing. Regular store hours are 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM CST daily, seven days a week.

In Illinois, Cresco Labs has 10 operating stores in the River North and Lakeview neighborhoods of downtown Chicago; Chicago northwestern suburb of Schaumburg; villages of Elmwood Park and Buffalo Grove in Cook County, the most populous county in the state; northern cities of Rockford and South Beloit, which is near the Wisconsin border; city of Champaign in central Illinois; and city of Danville in eastern Illinois near the Indiana border.

The Company has 20 operating stores in six states, including Illinois, Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.