Cannabis license applications started rolling into state offices on Monday, January 4. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) opened up their brand new online application system for cannabis licenses on the same day. Although government offices were closed due to the biggest winter storm in Portland this year, the launch of the online application system began anyway. Because of the storm, the OLCC wasn’t able to have staff and policy experts working in the government offices fielding questions from applicants. Many applicants were left with unanswered questions, and all the applications who have come in so far are off to a slow start. If you are one of those applicants, you can still send questions or concerns to email@example.com or call (503) 872-6366—but don’t expect a speedy response. Any individual looking to be involved in the recreational cannabis market in pretty much any capacity will need to apply for a license. If you plan to conduct cannabis research, test for pesticides and potency, produce edibles or concentrates, or sell cannabis wholesale or retail—you will most likely be going through this online application process. The OLCC is requiring detailed information about any cannabis-related business, from size and scale of operation to what security measures will be put in place.
Hundreds were expected to apply, and many are already applying to grow, process and sell cannabis in Oregon’s newly regulated recreational market. There are four types of licenses being granted by the OLCC through this new online system: Producer, processor, wholesaler and retailer. The first applications to be processed will be from those looking to grow outdoors. Outdoor growers need extra time to get crops in the ground since they aren’t depending on hydroponic systems—a nice nod from the state to encourage more environmentally healthy growing practices, perhaps. First priority will also be given to labs who are applying through the state to test cannabis grown in Oregon for potency and the use of chemical pesticides. Licenses for labs will also need to be certified by the Oregon Health Authority, who will require supporting documentation with details about business structure, organization and funding. Since labs will be holding growers and sellers accountable in presenting honest packaging with accurate product information, it is important that there are certified labs in place for testing before the majority of product is grown, and definitely before anything is placed on a dispensary shelf for consumers. The OLCC will license producers and labs starting this Spring, and retailers the following fall, once there are enough labs to do testing and enough suppliers to meet the demand for the recreational market.
The state government is busy setting a legal foundation for cannabis businesses to operate. They want to set high standards right from the start for businesses to comply with local and state regulations. Most cannabis businesses in Oregon are looking to legitimize as soon as possible, with dispensary raids still in their memories from less than five years ago. The opening of the cannabis licensing application system is a major step forward in the state’s goal to implement their regulated recreational cannabis program. The Oregon Health Authority, along with the OLCC, spent 2015 laying the groundwork for the industry, and drafting detailed rules for everything from security to facility size. 2016 will be the year Oregon puts these rules into action, and Oregonians will finally see a thriving, legal, and honest industry that anyone can enjoy.