Two weeks ago Oregon had a functioning cannabis market. Edibles, concentrates and extracts were just gaining steam in the stores and making up a good portion of sales. OLCC applicants were ramping up for stores to finally open. Most importantly, no one had died from ingesting cannabis here. People were not getting sick from pesticide laden weed and joints were not magically turning to cyanide upon combustion. In other words, not only was the market functioning, but it was safe. (Be clear, I am in favor of clean cannabis and “organic cultivation”. I can not wait to get this market to that point. It’s good policy and protects public safety. I do not think that we should lower the bar for pesticide use.)
Fast forward to today and the industry is slowly grinding to a halt due the serious and systemic problems with the new testing regime. The OLCC and the OHA have been fielding concerns from the cannabis business community since before the October 1st deadline letting them know that the labs are simply not ready for the capacity, that the protocols are not appropriate, the process validation doesn’t make practical or economic sense, the batch sizes are off and the absence of an on-ramp to the new system is serious and reckless. At the end of the day those voices appear to have been drowned out by the push to implement at whatever cost. (As a side note, this is not the labs fault. They have been caught in the middle of this and that is shitty for them just like everyone else) (As another caveat, the Governor’s office has been working hard on this issue and they are also not at fault here. They are trying.)
As a result, there are real businesses, good actors and experienced long-time participants trying to do right, who have been forced to shut down. Or are really close. Even those who are well-capitalized are laying people off. The agencies appear to now recognize this and held an “all hands” meeting with stakeholders. That was a few days ago. Now they are calling for widespread solution based input from every industry member. Due on Monday. Like in more days from the meeting. When more people will be shutting down because they can’t get testing or sustain the cost.
I like solutions as much as the next person. I want this problem solved. So, in honor of the OLCC’s ongoing request for input here is my solution: hit the pause button on the new testing rules while the agencies figure the rest out. Then, agencies, take all the time you need to hold meetings, make phone calls, shoot shit about it over cocktails, accept and read 10,000 letters. Whatever. But people need a reprieve right now. I have other suggestions for a long term, meaningful fix but this is my “today-is-right-now-and-things-are-going-off-the-rails” solution.
This is really complicated stuff. I respect Oregon for charting the course on clean cannabis. If we could just stop, for a hot minute, and problem solve this, maybe things will be ok.
Just so you know, the feelings expressing in this post are all mine and not reflective of any one else or any organization.