Citing an unmanageable backlog of recreational marijuana license applications and difficulty meeting its responsibilities to existing licensees, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) announced today that it will “pause” review of new recreational license applications effective June 15, 2018. The OLCC will also reallocate staff from licensing review to compliance and enforcement, focusing on the fall 2018 recreational outdoor harvest and registration of medical marijuana sites with the state’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS), which registration is required by July 1, 2018.

This OLCC action presumably responds to the Williams Memo, explained in a previous post, which called out overproduction and interstate trafficking of Oregon cannabis as top federal enforcement priorities. The OLCC, however, cannot unreasonably delay review of license applications (see ORS 475B.060). Although the OLCC lacks authority to unreasonably delay license review, and certainly has no authority to limit the number of licensees, it does have broad authority to carry out the intent of the applicable statutes (see ORS 475B.025).

Given ongoing frustration from applicants and licensees at the OLCC’s lengthy wait times and the well-publicized over-production issue and its consequences for both intrastate wholesale prices and the black market, today’s OLCC decision appears a prudent reallocation of resources. We reserve the right to adjust our opinion if the “temporary suspension” continues indefinitely.

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Photo of Cozette Tran-Caffee Cozette Tran-Caffee

Cozette is experienced in real estate, eminent domain, and land use proceedings, including land use entitlements for developers, property owners, and retailers. Cozette focuses on practical, cost-effective solutions to help her clients navigate government requirements and see their projects from concept to completion.

Before becoming an attorney, Cozette obtained a master’s degree in public policy and consulted on housing policy and planning issues, and she draws on that experience in her legal practice.

Photo of Justin E. Hobson Justin E. Hobson

Justin is Co-Chair of Lane Powell’s Cannabis Team. His practice includes all aspects of business taxation. He has particular experience counseling clients on a variety of cross-border tax matters, including global restructuring, cross-border transactions, entity formation, tax treaties, accounting for income taxes, transfer pricing, import and export taxes, customs duties, and value-added taxes.

Photo of Lewis M. Horowitz Lewis M. Horowitz

Lewis is Chair of Lane Powell’s Taxation team and past Co-Chair of the firm’s Cannabis Team. He is also a Certified Exit Planning Advisor qualified to assist private companies with their succession planning.

Benjamin Pirie

Ben Pirie counsels cannabis businesses on a wide range of corporate needs. He is passionate about building long-lasting relationships with clients as they reach toward their goals in one of the most dynamic and fraught industries in the world.  Ben brings his experience as in-house counsel to a Fortune 1000 company in Portland to bear on Oregon’s emerging cannabis industry, where he advises clients on business transactions, contracts, entity formation and management, securities compliance, corporate governance, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, state and local administrative law, and employment matters.