Oregon’s legal marijuana industry continues to suffer growing pains, according to a Secretary of State’s audit of the way the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Oregon Health Authority regulate recreational and medical marijuana.
That’s probably to be expected. Legal recreational weed has been available here for less than four years, and with legalized recreational marijuana came a veritable blizzard of new rules and regulations governing the industry. Getting a complex, two-state-agencies system running smoothly and efficiently is bound to take time.
We’re not there yet, as the audit makes clear. Both the OLCC, which governs recreational weed, and the OHA, which oversees the medical program, lack the resources to inspect and otherwise regulate the industry as they should.
Thus OLCC has inspected only about 3 percent of retailers and 32 percent of growers for their compliance with the regulations.
OHA has similar problems, and neither agency’s data collection is up to snuff.
Yet the compliance with regulations that comes with more frequent inspection is critical in the effort to keep Oregon marijuana off the black market. Failure to do that might bring unwanted federal attention.
It will take more money to put more inspectors to work and both agencies have asked the 2019 Legislature to approve funds for more permanent inspectors.
If OLCC’s regulation is to remain fully financed by licensing fees, those fees may need to be raised, and OLCC will need legislative approval to do that. OHA also needs legislative approval if it is to beef up its regulation and inspection program and take a serious look at expanding its lab testing program to cover both heavy metals and microbiological substances.
As the audit makes clear, both agencies have plenty of work ahead if they’re to bring state regulation of all kinds of marijuana up to snuff. As it also makes clear, reaching that goal will surely require help from the Legislature.