Oregon’s enforcement of marijuana production and sales, run by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, will get its first audit.
While an official look into how the state handles legal cannabis might seem threatening, it’s more about getting a clear view into what’s functioning and what needs to be improved in the state’s regulations. The audit will take an especially close look at how the state keeps track of a primarily cash-based industry, the effectiveness of financial regulations, whether regulators are keeping a close enough eye on the amount of cannabis and derivative products being produced, and whether or not the state provides timely and effective guidance to businesses in the industry.
This all comes in the face of various regulatory concerns that have arisen from other reports generated by other branches of the government, as well as threats from the federal government. Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent letters to all Governors presiding over states that have legalized recreational cannabis, including Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown. In that letter, Sessions cited a leaked draft of a report from the Oregon State Police. The police report has since been described as inaccurate by both Gov. Brown and the state police, who have distanced themselves from it’s findings, which included troubling amounts of cannabis being directed from the state into black market sales. The state has since enacted regulations and taken measures intended to counteract concerns.
A separate report earlier this year found that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission had been overburdened by marijuana regulation, which was met with an increase in staff, including adding a new public safety director. The report also suggested that if the OLCC doesn’t consistently apply regulations, it is at high risk for issues related to the “financial, legal and reputational” stability of the agency.
An audit will be a litmus test for whether or not new regulations have helped smooth over previous issues and give suggestions for how to address any pre-existing or new concerns, and will hopefully help hone an approach to an industry that is already an experiment get better at what it does.