Oregon Regulator to Ratchet Up Penalties for Repeat Offenders

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission held a work session after its meeting on October 17, 2019 to consider tougher penalties and fines. The Commission is concerned that current enforcement measures are not enough to deter repeat offenders.

During the meeting, the OLCC approved six (6) settlement agreements for rule violations. The violations involved surveillance camera outages, missing inventory and sales limit breaches. The OLCC issued reprimand letters to Artisan Agriculture, a licensed producer, and Gras Cannabis, a retailer, as both entities allowed their licenses to expire rather than facing a license suspension. The letter of reprimand will prevent the entities from obtaining another cannabis license.

OLCC staff proposed suspending Artisan Agriculture’s license for inventory and surveillance camera violations. Artisan Agriculture claimed that an air conditioning outage destroyed over 200 plants. Surveillance video showed that employees moved the plants to an unlicensed part of the building. Artisan failed to record the disposal of the plants in the tracking system. Artisan’s surveillance camera was also broken during a 24 hour period when plants were transferred to another licensed entity.

OLCC staff also proposed suspending Gras Cannabis’ license for its role in the August 2018 medical marijuana sales limit inquiry. The OLCC temporarily reduced the medical marijuana sales limit from 24 ounces to 1 ounce after inventory data revealed that certain registered cardholders were purchasing the maximum amount on a daily basis. Due to the frequency and size of the purchases, the OLCC immediately implemented a temporary rule that was effective from August 24 through December 27, 2018.

The OLCC has a track record of seeking greater penalties for serious rule violations. The recent public safety concerns posed by black market vape products may cause regulators to impose significant penalties for violations that appear to be diversionary activity. Cannabis businesses should review and test their inventory procedures to ensure they are effective and that the business will pass a surprise visit from a regulator,

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