Last month, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), along with streamlined licensing, announced a significant (and welcome) change to their compliance function by introducing a new Compliance Review (VOC) program that is more likely to affect certain types focused on education than on penalties of marijuana rule violations. The VOC was launched in early October and emerged from meetings with industry last summer. The OLCC is in the process of creating a formal permanent rule for the VOC program, which is expected to take several months.
The VOC program enables OLCC inspectors to issue licensees with VOC records (the “Ticket”) for a selected number of violations. If the licensee is able to resolve the issue within the required timeframe, the OLCC will not initiate any further proceedings against the licensee. That’s good news! But be careful – the OLCC reserves the discretion to prosecute violations of “tickets” if a licensee disregards rules and laws in general. Licensees should therefore not deal with violations of careless rules that could qualify for a “Fix-it-Ticket”.
What types of rule violations can qualify for the VOC? The OLCC identified four criteria that are relevant to this determination.
- The violation must possibly be remediable, ie the licensee can fix or fix the problem. (No example: selling marijuana to minors.)
- The corrective action must be measurable by the OLCC. This means that licensees and regulatory specialists must be able to point out specific measures to demonstrate compliance. (Example: setting the camera cover).
- The violations in question for VOCs should be teachable, learnable and executable. (Example: problems with METRC). This significantly narrows the list of allowable violations and reflects that the VOC is designed to address relatively common violations with a low probability of recurrence.
- The VOC should have a positive impact on both licensees by training licensees and OLCC staff by reducing the workload of enforcement cases currently being run by the Administrative Hearing Department.
Has the OLCC identified violations that qualify for VOC? Yes, the OLCC’s Compliance Education Bulletin identifies five violations that meet the above criteria. These are video recording, seed-to-sale tracking with METRC, inventory reconciliation with METRC, security requirements and UID tags. Note, however, that this list may change as the OLCC implements the program and develops permanent rules.
This is excellent work by the OLCC, which continues to show its desire to work with, and not against, Oregon’s marijuana industry. The VOC program reflects the maturation of the West Coast industry – last year Washington State took steps to move from controversial enforcement to regulatory compliance for its marijuana licensees – and agrees with statements from the OLCC that it did Is looking for “willing partners” in the cannabis industry.
You can find the OLCC press release on the VOC here and the Compliance Education Bulletin here. For more information on how the OLCC enforces marijuana rules and regulations and what actions to take if your marijuana business is having problems with the OLCC, please visit: