Last week the Oregonian did an article about OLCC licensing progress. While the OLCC made it sound like things are on track, that is not what I am hearing from clients who have not received a license yet and see the end of the year fast approaching.

Here are the stats.

As of Friday August 19th, the OLCC has issued 187 licenses of 1281 applied for.

-        Of those licenses, 186 are for cannabis production

-       One of those is a wholesale license

-       None of them are processor licenses or dispensary licenses

-       None of those are lab licenses

Where are the rest of the licenses at?

-       Of the 107 processor licenses applied for only 44 have been assigned out

-       Of the 254 dispensary licenses applied for only 33 have been assigned out

-     Of the 825 producer licenses only 526 have either been granted or assigned out.

In case you are wondering what that math looks like, 14.5% of the applied for licenses have been issued (11 producers are sitting on their licenses and waiting to pay). That means 86% have not. In almost eight months. Even if the issuance rate doubles, that means OLCC would move twice as fast, by the end of the year that still leaves more than 50% of the applications unissued.

None of this includes how many people are in the application hopper waiting to pull the trigger. There are an additional 703 (let that number sink in for a second) applications that are in process but which have not been paid for yet. If no one else applies for a license, and everyone gets one, that is 1984 cannabis related licenses. There are 1587 issued cannabis business licenses in Colorado. Uh. Does that seem crazy too? 

What’s the big deal about the rate these licenses are being issued? We are rapidly approaching December 31st of this year when early adult use sales ends. The businesses that have not received a license by then must go back to producing for, processing for, and selling to, only medical patients. Which is basically a catastrophe for each of these business owners who ramped up for early sales and anticipated getting their licenses before early sales ends. Additionally, can 186 or 200 or 250 producers grow enough for the ENTIRE Oregon adult use market including the enormous weight needed for processing? Seems impossible. What about 33 dispensaries being the only place to buy adult use products. Unworkable. Even if OLCC triples the number of dispensary licenses issued by the end of this year that still leaves 154 dispensaries returning to only medical sales.

While we usually like to be solution oriented, this post is merely a predictor of problems to come. If the OLCC does not rapidly and seriously increase the number of licenses they issue before early sales ends we are going to see chaos in the market, many businesses laying people off and a number of them completely shuttering their doors.