The Oregon Liquor Control Commission on Friday made clear where it stands when it comes to medical marijuana’s place in a regulated recreational market: All marijuana sold in a recreational shop must be tracked from seed to sale.
It’s a position with implications for the 223 medical marijuana dispensaries already operating in Oregon. If medical marijuana dispensary owners want to join the recreational cannabis market, the commission wants to make sure they’re tracking everything on the shelves from the start of production until it is sold.
“We are sending a clear message to the Legislature to say unless it’s coming through a regulated system and we are following it, don’t expect us to co-locate” medical and recreational shops, said Rob Patridge, chairman of the five-member liquor control commission. The liquor control commission is charged with overseeing the recreational marijuana industry.
OLCC commissioners voted on the policy position during a meeting on Friday. The policy was among dozens of recommendations the commission plans to forward to the Oregon Legislature, which is examining a wide range of issues related to marijuana implementation.
One of the biggest issues facing Oregon lawmakers: whether to leave the popular medical marijuana program alone or fold it in some way into the regulated recreational market. Currently, Oregon oversees only medical marijuana dispensaries; marijuana production and processing are unregulated.
Patridge, who also serves as Klamath County district attorney, and liquor control Commissioner Marvin Revoal cited a 2013 U.S. Department of Justice memorandum on marijuana in casting their votes. The document, drafted by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, outlines federal law enforcement priorities on marijuana and said state marijuana policies should focus on, among other things, limiting black market diversion.
Patridge has said he’s worried the unregulated medical marijuana production, which currently feeds the black market, will complicate efforts to effectively regulate recreational cannabis.
“The Cole memorandum is very clear,” he said. “We agree with it and that to not be a part of this seed to sale (system) would violate the spirit of the Cole memorandum.”
The decision was disappointing to Troy Moore, an owner of Oregon’s Finest, a Pearl District medical marijuana dispensary. Moore said he hoped to serve medical marijuana patients and recreational customers at one location.
“It just throws a hurdle in front of us if we want to be a rec store, which we do,” he said. “We will have to find another location and open another store.”
— Noelle Crombie