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Oregon Steps Up Penalties for Cannabis Sales to Minors

January 26, 2018

Oregon cannabis retailers caught selling to minors will face harsher penalties under a temporary rule approved by state regulators on Friday. That means heavier fines, longer license suspensions, and even the revocation of individual worker permits.

The rule follows findings by regulators that a number of shops across the state failed compliance checks in late 2017. During minor decoy operations conducted by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) in December, retailers in much of the state posted compliance numbers that regulators deemed “unacceptable.”

  • Eugene–Springfield: 84%
  • Keizer–Salem: 78%
  • Portland: 43%
  • Central Oregon: 100%
  • Southern Oregon: 67%

“It’s our core mission at the OLCC to prevent the sale of marijuana to minors,” Steve Marks, OLCC’s executive director, said Friday as the agency announced the rule change. “The early results are unacceptable, and we’ll keep holding retailers and their employees accountable until they get it right.”

The new rule is an attempt to bring down the hammer on offending retailers, whose sales to minors have drawn the attention of both state officials and federal law enforcement. The state’s US attorney, Billy J. Williams, has said he has “significant concerns about the state’s current regulatory framework and the resources allocated to policing marijuana in Oregon.”

OLCC Chairman Paul Rosenbaum said in a statement Friday there’s “no room for error” on underage sales. “The integrity of Oregon’s regulated system depends on industry compliance across the board.”

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Here’s how penalties will change under the temporary rule, which takes effect Jan. 26 and will be reviewed after six months:

First-time offense of unintentional sales to a minor: 30-day license suspension or $4,950 (previously 10-day suspension or $1,650 fine)

Two violations in a two-year period: automatic 30-day license suspension (previously 10-day suspension)

Three violations in a two-year period: license revocation (previously 30-day suspension)

The commission already had authority to suspend or revoke individual marijuana worker permits, which are required for budtenders and other employees. The OLCC is emphasizing, however, that the newly approved rule includes a provision to revoke a worker’s permit if that person intentionally sells a cannabis product to someone under 21.

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Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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