What is going on with OLCC recreational marijuana licensing?

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by Mia Getlin – Partner, Gleam Law

We previously reported that, in early November 2021, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) announced that the agency had lifted its pause on issuing new non-producer recreational marijuana licenses and would immediately begin processing new applications for retail, processor, and wholesaler licenses. Additionally, the agency began contacting people who had applied for non-producer licenses during the pause regarding their readiness to move forward with the licensing process. Of those contacted, 117 responded that they were ready to move forward. Those 117 applications were added to the queue during the first full week of December.

On January 1st, Senate Bill 218 sunset, ending the statutory moratorium of the issuance of new OLCC producer licenses. Beginning at 12:00am on January 2nd, the OLCC began accepting new producer license applications.

However, in the coming months, the legislature will consider House Bill 4016, which would reinstate the producer license moratorium and, potentially, an amendment that would apply the moratorium to other license types as well. HB 4016 provides for the moratorium to be retroactive to January 2, 2022. This means that, if the bill passes as currently written no new producer applications will be processed and non-producer applications submitted on January 2, 2022 or later may be deactivated.

These contradictions have led to great confusion in the industry. Business and license transactions have been terminated or renegotiated and would-be licensees have invested significant funds into new businesses expecting their new applications to be processed. Our clients have entered into long term leases or purchased real estate based on the expectation that their new applications will be processed. We have even talked to license and business brokers who are no longer taking new listings because “licensing has fully reopened.”

This uncertainty is making business planning very difficult and confusing.

In short, OLCC recreational marijuana licensing is currently a confusing mess. We are hopeful that we will have clarity soon, but in the meantime, things certainly are exciting.

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