This November, Oregon voters passed Measure 91. The act permits recreational use of marijuana under Oregon law. Beginning on July 1, 2015, adults aged 21 or older may privately grow, possess, and use limited amounts of the plant and derived products.
The law also opens the door to future retail sales of marijuana at licensed shops. As with alcohol, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) is charged with regulating the industry. The OLCC’s public rulemaking process will establish comprehensive regulations to deal with issues involving sales to minors, advertising, product safety, and business licensing.
The OLCC will begin accepting license applications no later than January 4, 2016. Marijuana-related businesses will be categorized as Producers, Processors, Wholesalers, and Retailers, each with its own set of rules. Licenses will cost $1,000 per year. A single licensee may hold multiple licenses and license types.
Business opportunities abound for not just the retail sale of marijuana but for ancillary products and services. Commercial greenhouse pot production can require heating and cooling systems, carbon dioxide injections, grow lights, air ventilation and filtration, and hydroponic or irrigation systems. The product itself must be properly harvested, packaged, labeled, stored, and shipped.
The marijuana industry will undoubtedly mirror goods and services found in the alcohol industry. The new law allows the sale of marijuana paraphernalia, such as pot-growing kits. Colorado and Washington, which both legalized marijuana in 2012, have already seen businesses offering marijuana “tastings” and tours.
Federal law continues to list marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance–a category that includes the “most dangerous drugs” like heroin. This fact adds substantial risk to marijuana-related business as most operations likely violate or cannot benefit from federal laws.
Under the Obama administration, the feds have informally stated that prosecuting businesses that are complying with strong state regulatory systems is not a priority. However, a shift to the right in politics could cast a haze over such policy.
Measure 91 creates numerous opportunities for budding “ganjapreneurs.” Please contact Acker + Associates for any legal assistance.