When recreational marijuana sales were first allowed in Portland, medical dispensaries were initially grandfathered in. The shops were given fifteen months to apply for and receive an Oregon State Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) recreational sales license. That period expires today. As a result many recreational marijuana shops face closure today until they are able to obtain their OLCC license. Other shops will remain open, but will only be able to serve customers with an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) card.
KGW has reported extensively on the switchover to recreational sales, and claims that at the beginning of December, the OLCC had over 900 pending applications to license recreational dispensaries for retail marijuana sales. And over the course of the month, the Commission says it has received 129 new applications. The OLCC is able to process no more than 50 and 60 applications a week, meaning that it looks unlikely that the recreational permitting backlog is going to be eliminated any time soon.
We spoke with budtenders at Progressive Collective on SE 99th Avenue on Friday, December 30th. They were warning every customer that they should stock up, as the dispensary would only be open for medical sales for the foreseeable future. Although the friendly budtender told us that he anticipated the location would reopen by the third week of January, it seems that for most medical shops in Oregon who are awaiting OLCC approval, such estimates are hopeful guesses as much as anything else. The budtender did, however, tell us that despite frustrations with the slow movement of the permitting process, the dispensary had a generally smooth approval process with the OLCC. He reported that the Commission appears to be fair and competent in their oversight of the recreational licensing process.
For those of us out in Weedlandia, just remember this for the next month or so: unless you know for a fact that your favorite shop has a recreational license, call before you come. Just don’t go popping over out the blue.