January 26, 2018 — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the regulatory agency that oversees recreational marijuana in the state, has increased the penalties for cannabis retailers who are caught selling to minors. They released a memo on January 25th detailing the changes.
The penalty increase comes in the wake of recent sting operations by the OLCC. During the stings across the state, only Central Oregon performed well with no failures, but the rest of the state did quite poorly with an overall statewide failure rate of about 25%, which means one in four dispensaries sold cannabis to an undercover minor.
The previous penalties for a first offense were a $1,650 fine or 10 day suspension of their license. Beginning today, January 26, 2018, the penalties are a $4,950 fine and a 30 day license suspension … triple what they were previously.
The penalties on multiple violations also increased. For a second offense within a two year period, a 30 day license suspension is automatic, and a third offense in two years would result in an automatic revocation of a retailers license.
“It’s our core mission at the OLCC to prevent the sale of marijuana to minors,” explained Steve Marks, OLCC Executive Director, in the memo sent out on Wednesday. “The early results are unacceptable and we’ll keep holding retailers and their employees accountable until they get it right.”
The entire memo is below:
January 25, 2018
OLCC Stiffens Penalties for Underage Sales of Marijuana
Portland, OR — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission today approved a temporary rule increasing the penalties for marijuana retail licensees that sell marijuana to minors. The rule includes a provision to revoke an individual’s marijuana worker permit if the permittee intentionally sells marijuana to a minor.
For a first time offense of the unintentional sale of marijuana to a minor the penalty increases to a 30-day license suspension or a fine of $4,950. Previously the penalty was a 10-day license suspension or a $1650 fine.
The Commission re-evaluated penalties after reviewing recent compliance reports on minor decoy operations.
“There’s no margin for error on making sure that marijuana doesn’t get in the hands of minors – period,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Commission Chair. “The integrity of Oregon’s regulated system depends on industry compliance across the board.”
The temporary rule takes effect January 26, 2018; OLCC staff will review compliance activity during the 180-day period the rule is in place. After the sixth-month period, based on that compliance record, and recommendations by staff, the Commission will consider options for permanent rulemaking.
Selling marijuana to a minor is an OLCC Category II (b) Recreational Marijuana Sanction (OAR 845-025-8590). The penalties for multiple violations also increase. Two violations in a two year period would result in an automatic 30-day license suspension; three violations in a two year period would result in license revocation.
The previous penalties were a 10-day license suspension, and a 30-day license suspension respectively. Under the previous rule a retail license would be revoked after a fourth violation in two years.
The Commission already has the authority to suspend or revoke a marijuana worker permit if a permittee violates any laws or rules applicable to a licensee. An intentional sale of marijuana by a marijuana worker permittee could include a retail employee selling to a friend they knew was under 21 years of age.
“It’s our core mission at the OLCC to prevent the sale of marijuana to minors,” said Steve Marks, OLCC Executive Director. “The early results are unacceptable and we’ll keep holding retailers and their employees accountable until they get it right.”