As of Oct. 1, Oregon Liquor Control Commission rules require cannabis products to meet new, higher standards for testing, packaging and labeling. The new rules center around product testing, and are designed to ensure more accurate tests for potency and pesticides.
As of the end of September, the OLCC has approved just six labs in the entire state, creating a huge bottleneck in the regulatory system. Two of those labs—EVIO Labs and Juniper Analytics—are in Bend.
Faced with the prospect of losing their sizeable investments, cannabis business owners are doing what other business owners would do: Reducing overhead costs and asking state bureaucrats to fix the problem they created. Bend-based industry leader Lunchbox Alchemy, for example, has stopped production and laid off 10 people.
Two weeks ago, the Oregon Cannabis Association asked the Oregon Legislature and the OLCC to allow businesses to continue to sell products under the previous standards for an additional 30 days. "This extension is crucial for the survival of many, many businesses," OCA representative Amy Margolis told the Legislature. Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene proposed a 90-day extension.
On Sept. 30, the Oregon Health Authority, which licenses existing cannabis businesses, issued temporary rules that ease some of the burden. The temporary rules don't extend the deadline for compliance, but ease certain labeling requirements for products in stores before Oct. 1. Confusingly, the temporary rules continue to apply the new labeling requirements to all other products, but allow their sale without the label going through the OLCC's label pre-approval process.
Experts say that the snafu will not mean product shortages, though some say that it will increase prices. The OLCC says it hopes to reach a total of 20 licensed labs by the end of October.