The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) has halted issuing new cannabis licenses of any kind to applicants who submitted their applications after January 1, KTVZ reports. The action is in response to a 2022 bill passed by the Oregon Legislature which ordered OLCC to stop granting new cannabis licenses.
“We see both sides of this issue,” Commissioner Matt Maletis said in the report. “There’s people that are very happy, and there’s people that are very unhappy, but the Legislature made a decision. We’ve always had a unique system in Oregon. There’s no easy way to do this.”
Besides the license moratorium, the commission also voted to undertake rulemaking for reporting human and sex trafficking in the cannabis industry and to create a system to reassign surrendered cannabis licenses. The OLCC plans on holding public meetings this summer to hear input on the new rules, the report says.
In March, two counties declared states of emergency related to cannabis, which allowed them to place moratoriums on issuing new hemp licenses. Jackson County Senior Deputy Administrator Harvey Bragg said that county officials needed “to kind of get a time-out” so they could catch up on applications and enforcement. Last year, state inspectors found 53% of licensed hemp grown in Jackson, and Josephine, counties were illegally growing cannabis under the guise of hemp.
Throughout 2021, law enforcement agencies in Southern Oregon have uncovered a host of issues at illegal cannabis grows, including workers living in poor conditions, water theft in a region hit hard by drought, improper use of pesticides and other chemicals, garbage, electrical hazards, and evidence of drug trafficking. Officials believe organized crime networks are backing many of the illegal cultivation sites.
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