Oregon Liquor Control Commission to ask lawmakers for peace officer authority to deal with marijuana enforcement
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission next week will ask lawmakers to give the agency peace officer authority so agents can enforce the state’s marijuana regulations.
The officers would be able to carry out stings to catch rogue operators, a tactic used regularly in the agency’s liquor enforcement. They would also be allowed to seize cannabis from licensed facilities in violation of state rules.
Rob Patridge, chairman of the commission, offered an example of where peace officers would be effective: a marijuana grow site with labeling that doesn’t meet state requirements. In that case, peace officers could respond without having to forward the case to law enforcement.
“It gives us that administrative enforcement authority,” he said.
The liquor control agency, which is charged with overseeing the regulated marijuana industry, employs 45 unarmed peace officers to enforce liquor laws and regulations. For instance, the agency oversees “minor decoy” operations in which minors are sent into liquor stores to see if the store sells them alcohol.
The liquor control commission regulates 248 liquor stores and more than 13,000 licensees, which includes stores, restaurants, bars and breweries.
Oregon’s new marijuana law gives the agency broad regulatory authority over cannabis production, processing and sales. But it does not include a provision for peace officers, making the commission a “toothless tiger” when it comes to enforcement, said Patridge, who is the Klamath County District Attorney.
The officers would facilitate coordination with local law enforcement on minor decoy operations and criminal investigations.
— Noelle Crombie