A bill – HB4016 – was recently introduced in the Oregon Legislature’s 2022 short session, which, if passed with one or more amendments, could provide the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (“OLCC”) with the discretion to stop issuing new marijuana producer, processor, wholesaler, and retailer licenses. The initial version of the bill would also provide the Oregon Department of Agriculture (“ODA”) the ability to issue new hemp grower licenses.
Perhaps most controversial, the bill could also make the moratoria on the above license types retroactive to January 1, 2022. In other words, OLCC and ODA could be required to inactivate applications for the above license types that were submitted on or after January 2, 2022. If the bill passes with those provisions intact, that could have serious financial consequences for folks who have purchased or leased property and invested money in a marijuana business for which they submitted on application on or after January 2, 2022. Such folks would have their applications inactivated and could only secure a new license by purchasing an existing licensed business (the bill does not affect changes in ownership or renewals). One amendment would repeal the moratoria on March 31, 2024, which presumably would mean applicants could submit new applications starting in a little over two years.
Other bill provisions and amendments provide for the ability for OLCC to establish a program to assign expired or surrendered licenses to “qualified applicants” (which we understand means license applicants who qualify under a to-be-created social equity program), subjecting illegal hemp premises to liens for cleanup and removal of industrial hemp, employees of OLCC marijuana licensees to report suspected sex or human trafficking, and earmarking additional funds to combat illegal marijuana operations.
The legislature will hold a second public hearing on HB 4016 on February 7, 2022, and, although remote testimony is no longer available for the hearing, written testimony may be submitted until 8 am on the morning of February 8, 2022. If HB 4016 affects you and you would like to submit written testimony, you may do so here.