In 2014, Oregon voters approved Measure 91 — the Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative — and legalized recreational cannabis. Measure 91 authorized the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act of 2014, which the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) uses to regulate marijuana in Oregon.
Oregon permits the following for individuals 21 and older: possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana inside the home; possession of up to an ounce of marijuana outside the home; growing no more than four total marijuana plants per residence; and gifting without compensation of up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form.
In addition to allowing personal marijuana cultivation and possession, the act provides for four types of recreational marijuana businesses: (a) marijuana producers who cultivate flowering plants; (b) marijuana processors who produce marijuana extracts and products; (c) marijuana wholesalers who sell marijuana products to retailers and other non-consumers; and (d) marijuana retailers who sell marijuana products to consumers.
As of June 29, 2020, the state had 2,259 active marijuana licenses, with 1,156 producers, 671 retailers, 242 processors and 169 wholesalers.
The state has also issued 20 licenses for labs and one license for research, as well as 57,352 worker permits.
After legalization, Oregon’s cannabis market was ripe for cultivators to begin growing, but it led to an overproduction that lowered marijuana’s recreational price per pound. As a result, some producers pivoted to hemp production while some exited the industry altogether. These movements created a volatile price point for Oregon marijuana in the following years due to supply instability in the market.
However, with the recent coronavirus crisis boosting sales, Oregon marijuana is experiencing an uptick in its price per pound as a number of key cultivators who survived the uncertainty are increasing their production capacity and brand awareness. According to the OLCC, Oregon’s marijuana sales in May 2020 exceeded $100 million.
Now, Oregon’s demand is steadily increasing and stabilizing, but major cities, such as Portland, will have to improve their cannabis infrastructure for the industry to remain sustainable. Specifically, these cities need to streamline licensing and improve data management systems to uniformly track resources, license fees and enforcement processes.
Garrett Graff, Darren Kaplan and Mitch Blackstone | Hoban Law Group
Garrett Graff is the managing attorney at Hoban Law Group. He is nationally recognized as a Cannabis Law Trailblazer by National Law Journal.
Darren Kaplan is an attorney at the Hoban Law Group who focuses primarily on regulatory and litigation issues facing hemp and marijuana businesses.
Mitch Blackstone is a law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and focuses primarily on cannabis laws and regulations.