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.
For more information:
Oregon Liquor Control Commission