To Be an OLCC Licensee or Not to Be? That is a question. There is also a question of when.

You may apply now for a license to grow cannabis for retail stores as long as your business is 51% owned by someone who can prove they resided in Oregon for the last two years. However this residency requirement is likely to change this legislative session. There will be no limit the number of grower licenses issued so there is no rush to submit your license application. Because most producers are already operating under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program it will be important to know the timetable for when money can be made in the OLCC market so you can decide when to apply for your license.

There will be no legal market for OLCC licensed producers or processors until OLCC licensed retail stores can open. The OLCC will wait to allow any retailers to open until many can open at the same time. We do not yet know what date they will open. The earliest the OLCC said we can expect stores to open would be the 3rd quarter of the year which starts in July but the OLCC has warned us in their free seminar that we may not see stores open until October. This means you will need to budget for the many months in which you will not be able to sell your product.

The following discussion of the OLCC rules applies to the rules as they are currently stated. They call them temporary rules for a reason. The rules are subject to change so keep up to date. One way to do so is by subscribing to the OLCC announcements which can be done at the OLCC website at www.public.govdelivery.com.

There are two OLCC rules that make it difficult for medical marijuana growers to obtain an OLCC license. After you apply for your OLCC producer license and before the license is issued you will need to pass an inspection. Difficult rule #1 for producer applicants is that you will not be allowed to have any plants at the property when you have your inspection. When you are approved for your license then you have a 90-day period to get plants in the vegetative state or seeds and they will not ask where they came. This can be challenging for medical marijuana growers that will be applying for an OLCC license. Difficult rule #2 is that in order to receive a license you will not be allowed to have any medical marijuana patients registered at the grow site. Co-location of OLCC and OMMP gardens is currently prohibited. Activists like myself are trying to change that rule, but for now we have to plan according the laws as they are currently stated. You will want to strategize how and when you apply for your OLCC producer license. If you depend on the income from selling your excess medical marijuana then we recommend waiting to get your producer license until we learn how long the licensing takes, and until we learn when retail stores will open.

You will not need to drop your medical marijuana patients until you find out your application is ready to go to the last steps of processing. You will have time to drop the patients later. If activists are successful and change the rule and thus allows co-location of OLCC and OMMP gardens, then producers would be able to get reimbursed at dispensaries which can help subsidize the empty production space while awaiting the OLCC license.

There is no 1000 foot rule between producers so the only limits to the location of your garden will come from your city or county when they decide the time, place and manner of which locations will qualify. Make sure your city and county has not outlawed production in your area. Additionally, Portland, Salem and possibly other localities are creating a local license that you would need before you get an OLCC license. You will need to be up to date on how to obtain and maintain your local licensing as well as state licensing. To find out the regulations in your area, search for “marijuana” and “(your city)” or “marijuana” and “(your county).” Then you will need to read any ordinances passed regarding marijuana in your area. If you live outside the city limits then search for the county, and if you live inside city limits then keep in mind that county provisions do not have jurisdiction of cities within their city limits.

OMMP producer rules and licensing requirements are still being drafted. When the rules are released, you will be able to weigh to costs of being a medical marijuana producer versus an OLCC producer. We already know that OMMP gardens will be limited to 12 plants in residential areas and 48 plants in any other zoned areas unless the location qualifies to be grandfathered in to having double those numbers. In order to be grandfathered to have double those numbers in each zoned locations, you would have had to have the patients authorizing that number of plants before December 31st, 2014. For more information on these limits and grandfathering in your location if you qualify, check out our blog Cha Cha Cha Changes, Turn and Face the Strange. To view the current draft of the OMMP rules visit http://www.oregon.gov/oha/mmj/Pages/rules.aspx#proposed.