By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
February 28, 2017—The Oregon Cannabis Connection has learned that Rob Patridge, The Chairman of Oregon Liquor Control Commission, will be likely be resigning his position. The resignation comes just a week after Patridge presented the OLCC marijuana consolidation plan to Oregon’s Joint Committee on Regulating Marijuana in Salem. The resignation also comes on the heels of signals from the Trump administration that more enforcement of marijuana laws is likely.
Patridge may be considering taking a position with a private company to do Public sector consulting. He would not confirm or deny the rumor.
Patridge, who currently serves as District Attorney for Klamath County, is a former Medford City Councilor and assistant prosecutor from the Rogue Valley. He served a few years in Salem as a Republican representative from Medford, ending in 2005. His family is originally from Eagle Point, Oregon originally and they own the Cash Connection pawn shops in four cities in southern and central Oregon. We featured him in our Aug/Sep issue last year.
Former Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Patridge in October 2012 knowing full well that marijuana legalization was on the horizon. He had faith in his abilities and it was a smart bi-partisan move. Eventually the OLCC was tasked with recreational cannabis after the passage of Measure 91 in 2014 and Patridge embraced the effort and engaged the industry to see what was needed.
“I think it turned out that Rob’s involvement of the industry in the rule-making was vitally important to the roll out of the system,” explained Brent Kenyon of Southern Oregon Alternative Medicine and Kenyon and Associates consulting. “Once he was, he took it by the horns and did a good job.”
Kenyon worked closely with Patridge on multiple Rules Advisory Committees (RAC) that were formed to create workable rules. He said Patridge was not afraid to tackle big problems and was willing to listen to more reasonable proposals and regulations in many instances. Kenyon believes Oregon’s system for recreational marijuana is a the best in the nation, even with the problems, and he believes Patridge was a key in his role.
“We’re sad to see him go so soon in the process and we hope the Governor’s new choice for chairman of the OLCC will be as dynamic and inclusive,” explained Kenyon.
Anthony Taylor of Compassionate Oregon had mixed feelings. He felt that considering his background and day job in Klamath County, he did a fair job.
“I think it’s hard to deal with the issues of marijuana legalization and regulation from a prosecutors point of view and I think he did as good a job as anybody in that position could have,” said Anthony Taylor of Compassionate Oregon. “To his credit, he took a different approach to writing the rules than Oregon Health Authority ever would have.”
Peter Gendron, a cannabis grower and president of Oregon Sungrown Growers Guild is hopeful Governor Kate Brown will have an appropriate replacement. He worries that another law enforcement person will be appointed. There is a long standing conflict of interest between prosecutors and marijuana consumers and growers that is hard to avoid. We broke the news to him.
“I hope the person that Governor Kate Brown replaces him with is somebody who is understanding of the nature of our civil society,” explained Gendron. “I really want someone in place at the largest law enforcement agency in the state that understands that we are a nation of people, and the laws are created by the people and for the people for their own benefit. I really hope we get a person like that to work with at the OLCC, that would be terrific”
We also learned that former Oregon representative Peter Buckley was asked if he would be interested in the position, and he turned it down. He had recommended another person for the position that also declined. It may be a hard sell for the Governor and, by statute, she must appoint someone from the massive 2nd congressional district that includes all of central and eastern Oregon and the Rogue Valley regions. One person from each district must be on the commission.
Hopefully someone as thoughtful as Buckley will be chosen for the position. Governor Brown has a great opportunity to appoint a difference maker to the OLCC top role, let’s hope she makes the most of it with an effective choice.
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