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Marijuana licenses near 300 and counting

Recreational pot applications pour in; OLCC offers training


Oregon’s recreational marijuana industry is officially off to the races.

Just days into the license application process, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has received 282 applications as of Monday morning from producers, processors, retailers, wholesalers and even research facilities.

About half are for applications from growers, who will see their licenses processed soonest because they’re at the top of the supply chain, says Mark Pettinger, OLCC spokesman.

Of the total applications received so far, at least 48 are in Multnomah County 28 in Clackamas County and 20 in Washington County.

As early as this week, Pettinger says OLCC staff will start combing through the license applications and start to process them.

At that point they’ll figure out how long it will take, from start to finish.

“Then, we’ll be able to develop a cadence that will determine how we’ll process and how we’ll allocate our human resources,” Pettinger says.

During the licensing process, labs will test for potency and pesticides, investigators will scrutinize the applications, and a specialist and field inspector will engage with the applicants on the premises, verifying and gathering additional information.

To accommodate the application process, the OLCC last week debuted a “pop-up” call center in Milwaukie that has been handling about 100 calls per day.

Some applicants have needed technical help filling out their online applications; others have asked for clarifications of the OLCC’s Recreational Marijuana Temporary Rules.

As calls start to taper off, OLCC will shift some of their resources to processing the applications.

The agency expects to receive at least 1,200 applications and issue about 850 licenses this year.

OLCC’s workshops for prospective applicants around the state in the past year attracted 4,000 people.

On Jan. 4 the OLCC began accepting licenses online for new commercial recreational marijuana retailers.

Current sales (since Oct. 1) of recreational marijuana products have been allowed by registered medical marijuana dispensaries.

Also as of Jan. 4, dispensaries started collecting a tax of up to 25 percent on all limited recreational marijuana product sales, per rules adopted by the Department of Revenue.

In February, the OLCC will launch its training sessions for the new software that Oregon dispensaries will use to track their inventory.

Every recreational marijuana licensee is required to use the Franwell Metrc Cannabis Tracking System, used in Colorado since December 2013.

To date the Florida-based company has registered more than 11,000 users in that state and tracked 3 million plants and 2 million packages.

In July 2014, a Brookings Institution report on Colorado’s implementation called Colorado’s tracking system a success.

“In an effort to track and monitor supply and prevent diversion, the state requires a Marijuana Inventory Tracking Solution (MITS),” notes John Hudak, managing editor of the FixGov blog.

“The system tracks every plant in every cultivation facility with a barcode-tagging system that is computerized and accessible to MED regulators. Barcodes can remain separate or can be batched as plant product is combined, so that product can be tracked from planting to purchase (seed to sale). The tracking system is technologically advanced, comprehensive, and serves as the backbone for the regulatory regime’s enforcement activities.”

In Oregon, Franwell Metrc will provide training sessions and webinars to licencees and prospective licensees, who must pass a test before the OLCC issues their license.

@jenmomanderson